Kennedy, the founder and senior pastor for 48 years of Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church (CRPC) in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, passed away "peacefully" in his sleep early Wednesday, September 5, at his home with his wife and daughter by his bedside, following heart troubles last December, church officials said.

"There are all kinds of wonderful things I could say about my dad," said daughter Jennifer Kennedy Cassidy in a statement obtained by BosNewsLife. "But one that stands out is his fine example. He ‘walked the walk’ and ‘practiced what he preached.’ His work for Christ is lasting — it will go on and on and make a difference for eternity."

Kennedy, preached his last sermon from the pulpit of CRPC on Christmas Eve Sunday 2006. He suffered a cardiac arrest four days later on December 28, and has since been unable to return to the pulpit. The church announced his retirement last month on August 26, beginning a process to choose his successor, and had planned a tribute worship service honoring the extensive ministry of Kennedy on September 23.


Kennedy took the CRPC in Fort Lauderdale from a congregation of 45 in 1959 to a megachurch of nearly 10,000 members today, according to official data. In 1974, Kennedy started Coral Ridge Ministries, his radio and TV outreach arm, which now claims a weekly audience of 3.5 million

His show "Coral Ridge Hour," Kennedy’s televised weekly sermon, brought Fort Lauderdale toCoral Ridge Presbyterian Church grew from a few dozens to a mega church involving 10,000 members. national attention.

It airs on over 400 stations and four cable networks and is broadcast to more than 150 countries on the Armed Forces Network, according to his church.

"Truths that Transform," is another,  daily, broadcast carried on nearly 750 radio stations across the United States.

Last year, the National Religious Broadcasters association inducted him into their Hall of Fame.
In his broadcasts he often spoke of the importance to "reclaim America for [Jesus] Christ." He also made clear that the founding fathers of the United States of America were strong Christians something, Kennedy said, was often overlooked by liberal groups who he claimed tried to take religion and Biblical values out of American society.

In 1996, Kennedy formed the Center for Reclaiming America for Christ, to mobilize conservative Christians "on the key fronts of the modern-day culture war," including marriage, pornography, creationism and "judicial tyranny," according to the group’s Web site.


The center closed earlier this year, in part because Kennedy was primarily an evangelist who emphasized the need for evangelical Christians to impact America. Despite being a local pastor of one church for nearly five decades, Kennedy has had a worldwide ministry influence, his church said.

In 1996 his project ‘Evangelism Explosion’ — through which nearly 5 million people reportedly "made commitments to Christ" in 2006 alone — became the first Christian ministry to be established in every nation on earth.

"America is in the throes of a cultural shift with enormous implications for the future," Kennedy said in 2004 noting the growth in the number of evangelical Christians in the United States. "If that trend continues, and I believe it will, Evangelical Christians will be in the majority sometime in the next decade," he added.

Dr. Frank Wright, center, the newly installed president of the National Religious Broadcasters, gives Dr. Kennedy a plaque honoring The Coral Ridge Hour as NRB’s 2003 Television Program of the Year. NRB Chairman Glenn Plummer looks on."We will miss Dr. Kennedy enormously," said Frank Wright, president of the National Religious Broadcasters.

"His moral leadership and his legacy of impacting the globe for Jesus Christ is unmatched by few in the history of the Church," he said in a statement obtained by BosewsLife. "It is our desire to honor him by sustaining and multiplying his impact through Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church and all the ministries founded by Dr. Kennedy in the years to come."


Kennedy was raised in Chicago and earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Tampa, master’s degrees from Columbia Theological Seminary and the Chicago Graduate School of Theology, and a doctorate from New York University. He used that knowledge as author of more than 50 books. Kennedy also founded two schools – Knox Theological Seminary and Westminster Academy, a Christian school near his church.

Kennedy is survived by his wife of 51 years, Anne, and a daughter, Jennifer Kennedy Cassidy, who thanked supporters for "prayers, cards, kindnesses and encouragement over the past nine months," following the initial retirement announcement. "Our family knows that we have come through this difficult time because of God’s grace and your faithful prayers, and it has brought joy to us to see God’s faithfulness in all of this," his daughter said.

Funeral arrangements were not immediately announced, but before he died, Kennedy made clear it should not become a sad ceremony. “Now, I know that someday I am going to come to what some people will say is the end of this life. They will probably put me in a box and roll me right down here in front of the church, and some people will gather around, and a few people will cry. But I have told them not to do that because I don’t want them to cry," he said in a statement published on his memorial website.

"I want them to begin the service with the Doxology and end with the Hallelujah chorus, because I am not going to be there, and I am not going to be dead. I will be more alive than I have ever been in my life, and I will be looking down upon you poor people who are still in the land of dying and have not yet joined me in the land of the living," he said, referring to heaven.


While hindered by persistent health problems that included asthma, as well as chronic and often severe physical pain from compressed vertebrae due to an injury suffered as a young man, Kennedy was "indefatigable" in his ministry work, friends say.

He said on several occasions how much he looked forward to being free from pain in heaven.

In heaven, he said, "I will be alive forevermore, in greater health and vitality and joy than ever, ever, I or anyone has known before,” stressed Kennedy, who saw Jesus Christ as his "Personal Lord and Savior." (With BosNewsLife News Center, BosNewsLife Research and reporting from the United States).


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