Celebrating Over Forty Years of Broadcasting

D. James Kennedy had a large vision—a vision for making a global impact for Christ. One Sunday evening in 1960 he read Jeremiah 33:3 to his small congregation. No more than 15 to 20 people were present, but after he read the following from Jeremiah 33:3: “Call unto me and I will answer thee, and show thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not,” he said something that astounded his listeners:  “You know, I believe we can change the world!”

It began with Evangelism Explosion in 1962, a ministry for training Christians to personally share their faith and lead others to Christ.       

By 1973, as the yet-to-be-completed new Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church sanctuary was going up, Dr. Kennedy had begun to see that there was another tool he could use effectively to make a global impact for Christ—mass communications—now developing at a fantastic rate. 

As he addressed those who were present for the dedication of the new church building in 1974, Dr. Kennedy set the vision for not only the mission of the church, but also for the media ministry that would eventually broadcast his sermons and the Coral Ridge Church services worldwide. He spoke of that vision to his congregation telling them:

It is our prayer, that through this church, the Gospel of Jesus Christ might be radiated through television and radio, motion pictures and cassettes, books and clinics, and by ways yet undreamed of unto the entire world, that the command of Christ to go and proclaim the Gospel to every creature might be fulfilled in our generation.

That year, the radio ministry was launched with a radio outreach on five stations in Michigan, and four years later in 1978, the Coral Ridge worship service was first broadcast on television. Over the next 27 years syndication was to expand to a high point of 675 television stations and 700 radio facilities. 

In the 1990’s Dr. Kennedy’s radio program Truths That Transform was on more than 300 radio outlets nationwide and The Coral Ridge Hour was in every major TV market in the United States. Dr. Kennedy became recognized as “one of the leading Christian statesmen of the day.” His biographer Herbert Williams notes that he became “a much-sought-after guest on ‘celebrity shows.’ His TV appearances include[d] Crossfire, CBS Nightwatch, MacNeil/Lehrer Report, Donahue, The Merv Griffin Show, and a Ted Koppel special on televangelism.” In addition, Dr. Kennedy was quoted in national magazines and newspapers such as the U.S. New and World Report, Christianity Today, The Washington Times, USA Today, The New York Times and The Washington Post. He was also a frequent guest on Morning Joe and from time to time Bill O’Reilly of Fox television would call his home to ask him about issues dealing with religion in public affairs and conflicts over manger scenes and church/state battles.  

As the national and international scope of the ministry expanded, it made sense by 1996 to incorporate the ministry as a free-standing organization, Coral Ridge Ministries Media, Inc., separate and apart from Coral Ridge Church and having its own board of directors and executive staff. Coral Ridge Ministries became the vehicle for the broadcast ministry of Dr. Kennedy,

In 2003, NRB professionals awarded The Coral Ridge Hour the honor of being the “Television Program of the Year” and in 2004 they designated the radio program, Truths That Transform, “Best Radio Teaching Program” of the year. In 2005, Dr. Kennedy, himself, was inducted into the National Religious Broadcasters Hall of Fame.

Now known as D. James Kennedy Ministries, the organization founded by Dr. Kennedy has continued his mission and legacy since his death in 2007. In addition to the broadcast channels of radio and television (now available on cable, satellite and the Internet), the ministry has published numerous books and booklets, as well as a monthly newsletter IMPACT, which was expanded in 2015 to a 48 page digest format with the inclusion of monthly devotionals by Dr. Kennedy and Dr. Jerry Newcombe, who collaborated with Dr. Kennedy on over 16 books.

In April of 2015, Dr. Frank Wright took the helm of D. James Kennedy Ministries as President and CEO. Jim Carlson notes that Dr. Wright was “a decade’s long friend and student of the late Dr. Kennedy and he shares an incredible understanding of Dr. Kennedy’s biblical perspective, his commitment to the Great Commission of Jesus Christ and this ministry’s Cultural Mandate.”

Dr. Kennedy named Dr. Wright as the first director of the D. James Kennedy Center for Christian Statesmanship in Washington, D.C. Later Dr. Wright served for ten years as the president and chief executive officer of the National Religious Broadcasters, as well as president and chief operating officer of Salem Communications Corporation, one of the preeminent Christian media companies in the world. Dr. Wright’s wealth of experience in the areas of broadcast management and public policy uniquely qualify him to assume the leadership of the ministry.    

Dr. D. James Kennedy left behind a great legacy, much of which has been preserved on audio and video tapes and in the many books he wrote. We pray that, as the ministry now bearing his name, we may faithfully steward this vast repository of his teaching, and by using all the current channels of communication and, in the future, the “ways yet undreamed of,” we may serve as a megaphone to the world, proclaiming the Gospel to every creature. Our motto, as was Dr. Kennedy’s, continues to be: “Excellence in all things, and all things to the glory of God.”

Dr. D. James Kennedy, Ph.D.

A.B., M.Div., M.Th., D.D., D.Sac.Lit., Ph.D., Litt.D., D.Sac.Theol., D.Humane Let.

Dr. D. James Kennedy remains one of the most listened-to Christian ministers in America. His forthright and rational presentation of the Gospel is heard via television, radio, and the Internet throughout America and the world.

Dr. Kennedy, who entered the presence of his Savior, Jesus Christ, on September 5, 2007, began his Christian life in 1953 after he was startled awake one Sunday morning by a preacher's stern question coming out of his clock radio. "Suppose you were to die today and stand before God," the voice boomed, "and He were to ask you, 'What right do you have to enter into My heaven?' — what would you say?" Dr. Kennedy soon discovered the answer, was converted to Christ, and shortly thereafter was called into the Gospel ministry. Today, Dr. Kennedy's broadcast messages are televised to a nationwide audience.

Dr. Kennedy served for 47 years as Senior Minister of Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. A modest mission church of 45 people when Dr. Kennedy arrived in 1959, the rocketing growth of the church made it, for 15 years, the fastest growing Presbyterian church in America. Decision magazine named the church one of the "Five Great Churches of North America." In 2005, Dr. Kennedy was inducted into the National Religious Broadcasters Hall of Fame.

Dr. Kennedy's energetic commitment to both evangelism and cultural renewal is demonstrated by four organizations he founded: D. James Kennedy Ministries (formerly Coral Ridge Ministries), Evangelism Explosion International, Knox Theological Seminary, and Westminster Academy.

D. James Kennedy Ministries — The media outreach of Dr. Kennedy, D. James Kennedy Ministries began in 1974 as Coral Ridge Ministries with the mission of bringing the Gospel to America and the world. Its media outreach includes the weekly television programs Kennedy Classics with Dr. D. James Kennedy and Truths That Transform; Truth In Action, a weekly half-hour radio program; with Dr. Michael Milton; the website; the monthly Impact Magazine and Devotional, and other print and video resources produced by D. James Kennedy Ministries.

Evangelism Explosion International — A lay-witnessing training program first developed in 1962 by Dr. Kennedy, Evangelism Explosion ("EE") is now used in every nation and territory. EE has been used by God to spark explosive growth in congregations around the world.

Knox Theological Seminary — Dr. Kennedy launched Knox Theological Seminary in 1989 to prepare and equip Christians for ministry with education grounded in the historic Reformed faith and shaped by commitments to the sovereignty of God, the inerrancy of the Bible, and obedience to the Great Commission and the Cultural Mandate.

Westminster Academy — Dr. Kennedy founded Westminster Academy in 1971 to help meet Fort Lauderdale's need for quality Christian education. It is a fully-accredited nationally-recognized Pre-K to 12th grade academy with approximately 1,000 students.

Dr. Kennedy earned a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Tampa, a Master of Divinity from Columbia Theological Seminary (cum laude), a Master of Theology from Chicago Graduate School of Theology (summa cum laude), and a Ph.D. from New York University. He is the author of more than 65 books, including Evangelism Explosion (more than 1.5 million copies), What If Jesus Had Never Been Born?, The Da Vinci Myth versus The Gospel Truth, and Cross Purposes: Discovering the Great Love of God for You.

Born in Augusta, Georgia, Dr. Kennedy was raised in Chicago and moved to Florida while in high school. He is survived by his wife of 51 years, Mrs. Anne Kennedy, and his daughter, Mrs. Jennifer Kennedy Cassidy.

Dr. Frank Wright, Ph.D.

President & CEO

For many years, Dr. Frank Wright was a protégée of Dr. D. James Kennedy. When the D. James Kennedy Center for Christian Statesmanship was established in Washington, D.C., Frank was Dr. Kennedy’s choice to head it up. When we gathered with friends and partners to cast a vision for the next 40 years of ministry in 2014, Frank graciously served as our keynote speaker.

And now Dr. Wright has come home to D. James Kennedy Ministries.

After establishing the Center for Christian Statesmanship as a vital force for evangelism and the biblical worldview on Capitol Hill, serving for over a decade as the President and CEO of the National Religious Broadcasters, and acting as the President and COO of Salem Communications Corporation, Frank Wright joined D. James Kennedy Ministries as our President and CEO on April 15, 2015.

“Beyond a shadow of a doubt, God has led Dr. Wright and our ministry to this partnership ‘for such a time as this’”, says Jim Carlson, Chairman of the Board,  who has been part of the ministry since the very beginning alongside Dr. Kennedy over 40 years ago. “Along with Jennifer Kennedy Cassidy and the entire Board of Directors, I look forward to what we will accomplish together for the Kingdom of God under Frank’s leadership, bold vision, and proven experience.“

Dr. Wright holds a Ph.D. in Finance from Florida Atlantic University and is an ordained Elder in the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA). Throughout the years, he has been very vocal about Dr. Kennedy’s direct impact on him and his ministry, and their shared vision and worldview makes Dr. Wright the ideal person to continue D. James Kennedy Ministries’ push toward the future.

As Jim Carlson has put it, “Beyond Dr. Wright’s professional expertise, he is a decade’s long friend and student of the late Dr. Kennedy and he shares an incredible understanding of Dr. Kennedy’s Biblical perspective, his commitment to the Great Commission of Jesus Christ and this ministry’s Cultural Mandate.”

Dr. Wright has said, “[Dr. Kennedy’s] moral leadership and his legacy of impacting the globe for Jesus Christ is matched by few in the history of the Church. It is our desire to honor him by sustaining and multiplying his impact.” 

Authors & Contributors

Jerry Newcombe
Jerry Newcombe, D.Min., is senior producer and on-air host at D. James Kennedy Ministries. He has also written or co-written more than 20 books, including The Book That Made America: How the Bible Formed Our Nation, and the bestselling George Washington's Sacred Fire (with Dr. Peter Lillback)
Karen Van Til Gushta
Karen Gushta, Ph.D., is a writer and editor at D James Kennedy Ministries and has written The Truth About Common Core: Questions and Answers . She is also author of How Can America Survive? The Coming Economic Earthquake and The War on Children and co-author of Ten Truths About Socialism. As an educator, Dr. Gushta taught at the elementary and the university levels, in both Christian and public institutions. She earned a Ph.D. in Philosophy of Education and Masters' Degrees in Elementary Education and Christianity and Culture.
John Rabe

An ordained Southern Baptist church elder, John Rabe has a B.A. in Christian Ministry from Trinity International University and has studied at Knox Theological Seminary. He is the Director of Creative Production at D. James Kennedy Ministries, and oversees the television programs Truths That Transforms and Kennedy Classics. He is also the author of the book None Dare Call It Islam.

Financial Accountability

D. James Kennedy Ministries is accredited by the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability (ECFA). We are committed to financial integrity and accountability, and are fully compliant with the ECFA’s Seven Standards of Responsible Stewardship. (For more information on these standards, click here.)