Wednesday, September 5

A Life Well-Lived

November 3, 1930 – Dennis James Kennedy is born to George and Ermine Kennedy in Augusta, Georgia.

December 1930 – The Kennedy family moves to Chicago, settling in an apartment just 50 yards from Lake Michigan.

1945 – The family relocates once more to Tampa, Florida.

1952 – Arthur Murray Dance instructor Jim Kennedy meets Anne Lewis and signs her up for six months of dance instructions.

1953 – Sleeping late on a Sunday morning, Jim Kennedy hears the Gospel for the very first time from a radio preacher. Shortly thereafter he professes faith in Christ.

December 3, 1955 – After fighting God’s call to full-time ministry for nearly a year, Jim Kennedy, with great trepidation, quits his job as a dance studio manager.

December 3, 1955 – Jim Kennedy and Anne Lewis become engaged.

December 4, 1955 – Jim is given the chance to preach at a local Presbyterian church and, to his surprise, is employed as the interim minister the same day.

August 25, 1956 – Jim and Anne are married at First Presbyterian Church of Lakeland, Florida.

Fall 1956 – Jim Kennedy begins seminary training at Columbia Theological Seminary in Decatur, Georgia.

May 11, 1959 – Days before his seminary graduation, Jim receives a letter from the Home Missions Committee of the Everglades Presbytery inviting him to consider pastoring a new church to be started in Fort Lauderdale.

June 21, 1959 – The first Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church worship service is held at McNab Elementary School, led by D. James Kennedy.

July 21, 1959 – Rev. D. James Kennedy is ordained.

1960 – Rev. Kennedy tells his fledgling congregation: “You know what? I believe we can change the world!”

July 31, 1960 – Rev. D. James Kennedy is installed as minister of Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church.

1962 – Rev. Kennedy begins to train church members to share Christ using the techniques learned from Rev. Kennedy Smartt.

March 16, 1962 – Jennifer is born and adopted into the Kennedy family.

March 18, 1962 – A new church building seating 500 on Commercial Boulevard is dedicated.

February 20, 1967 – The first Evangelism Explosion clinic is held with 36 people in attendance.

Summer 1967 – Tragedy strikes when Anne undergoes cancer surgery. Rev. Kennedy later describes God’s provision during that dark time in his message, “Songs in the Night.”

1970 – Evangelism Explosion, the first of more than 65 books by Dr. Kennedy is published by Tyndale. To date, more than 1.5 million copies have been sold.

1970 – Like A Mighty Army, a dramatic motion picture depicting the story of Evangelism Explosion, is produced by Gospel Films.

August 28, 1970 – Lay Evangelism, Inc., later changed to Evangelism Explosion III International, Inc., is organized.

April 11, 1971 (Easter Sunday) – Groundbreaking for new church on Federal Highway.

August 1971 – Classes begin at Westminster Academy with 300 students enrolled.

February 3, 1974 – The new church building on Federal Highway is dedicated. Dr. Billy Graham addresses the 11,000 people in attendance, some on benches outside the church, and 597 decision for Christ are recorded.

October 1, 1974 – Radio station WAFG (90.3 FM) is licensed as a non-commercial educational station.

October 3, 1976 – Church membership reaches 5,000 people.

January 8, 1978 – Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church votes to leave the Presbyterian Church (U.S.) and unites with the Presbyterian Church in America (P.C.A.).

September 17, 1978 – First television broadcast of worship service.

February 1979 – Dr. Kennedy receives his Ph.D. from New York University, completing his list of degrees as follows: A.B., M.Div., M.Th., D.D., D.Sac.Lit., Ph.D., Litt.D., D.Sac.Theol., and D.Humane Lit.

November 30, 1980 – Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church celebrates its 20th anniversary.

May 29, 1990 – George Kennedy, Dr. Kennedy’s brother, dies. Dr. Kennedy learns after his death that George, who had long resisted the Gospel, was led to Christ on his death bed by a young hospital chaplain.

1984 – Truths That Transform, Dr. Kennedy’s daily radio program begins.

November 24, 1985 – Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church celebrates its 25th anniversary.

1988 - With Evangelism Explosion in only 66 nations, Dr. Kennedy challenged the organization’s vice presidents to take the lay-evangelism training program to every nation by 1995.

March 14, 1989 – The Session of Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church establishes Knox Theological Seminary and appoints Dr. Kennedy Chancellor.

March 30-April 1, 1990 – Coral Ridge Church marks its 30th Anniversary during a “Celebrate the Dream” weekend celebration.

September 1990 – Knox Theological Seminary begins classes to train pastors and laymen in a graduate school of theology.

1992 – The Kennedy Commentary, a daily 90-second radio commentary, is launched.

May 21, 1994 – Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church celebrates Dr. Kennedy’s 35th year in Gospel ministry.

September 14, 1995 – Dr. Kennedy dedicates the D. James Kennedy Center for Christian Statesmanship in Washington, D.C.

February 23, 1996 – Evangelism Explosion International becomes the first Christian organization in history to establish its ministry in all 211 nations of the world.

March 7, 1999 – Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church celebrates its 40th anniversary.

December 2000 – Along with Dean Jones, Dr. Kennedy co-hosts Who Is This Jesus, a one-hour documentary viewed by some 12 million people nationwide.

February 15, 2005 – Dr. Kennedy is inducted into the National Religious Broadcasters Hall of Fame.

October 2005 – After Hurricane Wilma rips off the church roof and drenches the sanctuary, Dr. Kennedy encourages the congregation, telling them this is “our finest hour.”

December 9, 2005 – Dr. Kennedy is feted at a surprise 75th birthday celebration.

August 25, 2006 – Dr. and Mrs. Kennedy celebrate 50 years of marriage.

September 5, 2007 – Dr. Kennedy enters into the presence of God in Heaven.


Unknown said...

Great summary of Dr. DJK's life.

Mike Tant said...


Thank you for taking the time to compose this bio for your friend. It is so unusual for a pastor to remain in the same pulpit for almost 50 years. Its almost like he knew his calling.


martha said...

i remember when he moved to ft.lauderdale to start a church. i was in 8th grade. he spoke in our christian school chapel sometimes and once at a jr. high retreat:) (would never have made it today at a jr. high retreat:)
i'm relieved for him to be with Christ after these months of being so ill. i pray for his wife and daughter in their loss. He persevered. m

Michael R. Shipma said...

I'm afraid my bio will be a lot less impressive at my passing.