Evangelism Explosion International's Founder and President, Dr. D. James Kennedy, Passes Away

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Founder and president of Evangelism Explosion International succumbs to complications from cardiac arrest.

There are all kinds of wonderful things I could say about my dad

Evangelism Explosion International's founder and president, Dr. D. James Kennedy passed away peacefully in his sleep at approximately 2:15 a.m. at his home with his wife and daughter by his bedside, following complications from a cardiac event last December. He was 76.

"There are all kinds of wonderful things I could say about my dad," said daughter Jennifer Kennedy Cassidy. "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."

Dr. Kennedy, who is survived by Anne, his wife of 51 years, and his daughter Jennifer (Kennedy) Cassidy, preached his last sermon from the pulpit of Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church on Christmas Eve Sunday 2006. He suffered a cardiac arrest four days later on Dec. 28, and has since been unable to return to the pulpit. The church announced his retirement on Aug. 26, beginning a process to choose his successor, and had planned a tribute worship service honoring the extensive ministry of Dr. Kennedy on Sept. 23.

"Dr. Kennedy was an incredibly gifted senior clinic teacher and a model witness for Christ," said Rev. John B. Sorensen, EE Executive Vice President. "We will certainly miss that leadership within EE."

As a young man, Jim Kennedy was looking forward to serving God as a missionary in Zaire, Africa. A back injury prevented him from doing this and in May, 1959, Dr. Kennedy and his wife arrived in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

The Presbyterian Church in the United States had purchased a piece of land in the northeast part of the city. A small group of about 50 worshippers was meeting in a school on Sunday mornings. Jim Kennedy had been called to be their first pastor.

Jim recalled that he soon had that group of 50 down to 17. Very discouraged about his call into the ministry, he received an invitation from his friend, Pastor Kennedy Smartt, to conduct a series of revival meetings. During that week in Decatur, Georgia, Jim was trained in personal evangelism. He returned to his church and trained a few individuals.

In the summer of 1962, while Jim and Anne were on vacation, they received a phone call from one of the trainees who had led someone to Christ. Some mark this event as the birth of the Evangelism Explosion ministry.

His legacy in the American church is impressive beginning with the growth of Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. He also started Knox Theological Seminary, Westminster Academy, The D. James Kennedy Center for Christian Statesmanship, Reclaiming America for Christ, hosted the Truths That Transform radio program, the Coral Ridge Hour television program, and authored numerous books.

Still, with such an extraordinary portfolio, he said that maybe the most important thing God may have done through him was Evangelism Explosion. By 1996, Evangelism Explosion had been planted in every nation on earth. Through EE, Dr. Kennedy's desire to be a missionary in Africa had been accomplished.

"Dr. Kennedy's example of living out personal witness in his daily life is an encouragement to us all to continue to share the Gospel and train others all over the world," said Rev. Sorensen.

"The best thing we can do is to obey Christ, continue spreading the Gospel, and train others to do the same. This was at the heart of Dr. Kennedy's ministry."

Viewing and funeral arrangements will be announced shortly via a legacy web site, http://www.DJamesKennedy.org, that has been developed to pay tribute to the life and faith of Dr. Kennedy.


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