DR. D. JAMES KENNEDY REMEMBERED BY HIS CHURCH IN FIRST WORSHIP SERVICES SINCE HIS PASSING:
FT. LAUDERDALE, Sept. 9 – Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church (CRPC) held its first worship services following the death on Wednesday of founder and senior minister of more than 48 years, Dr. D. James Kennedy, this morning at 8:45 and 11:15 AM. Rev. John Sorensen, executive vice president of Evangelism Explosion International, a ministry also founded by Dr. Kennedy, preached the sermon.
“Months ago, Rev. Sorensen was scheduled to preach at this service,” said Rev. Ronald L. Siegenthaler, CRPC executive minister, explaining that the Sunday before Dr. Kennedy would return at the end of every summer is always Evangelism Explosion Sunday. “I believe it is in God’s sovereignty and timing that the ministry closest to Dr. Kennedy’s heart will be the first to enter his pulpit after it was vacated by his homegoing.”
In the invocation, Rev. Siegenthaler expressed gratitude to God for Dr. Kennedy’s comprehensive ministry of equipping people to share their faith through evangelism; instruction in a cultural mandate to address the “evils of our generation;” and theological training through Knox Seminary, expressing his desire that these ministries will “continue to flourish in the years that lie ahead.”
Following several choral numbers by the 100-voice choir – including Mrs. Anne Kennedy, Dr. Kennedy’s wife of 51 years – Dr. Kennedy appeared by video, encouraging church members of the assurance of heaven for every believer in Christ.
“Someday I’m going to come to what people will say is the end of this life,” Dr. Kennedy said in a previously recorded sermon. “They’ll probably put me in a box, roll me down to the front of the church and a few people will cry, but I’ve told them not to. I want them to begin the service with the Doxology and end with the Hallelujah Chorus – because I’m not going to be there. I will be more alive then than I ever have been in my life.
“I will be looking down upon you poor people who are still in the land of dying, and have not yet passed on to the land of the living,” the voice of Dr. Kennedy continued. “I will be alive forevermore, enjoying greater health and vitality than anyone has ever known before – that’s what Christ offers us.”
In his sermon, Rev. Sorensen echoed Dr. Kennedy’s sentiments with mixed emotions. “Could anything be more wonderful than the truth we know about Dr. Kennedy?” he asked. “On the one hand, we feel the excitement that Dr. Kennedy is right now enjoying God in heaven and sitting at the feet of Jesus. On the other hand, we’re all still here, and it feels lonely this morning without our pastor leading the way.”
Rev. Sorensen’s sermon was entitled, “The Best is Yet to Come,” based on a text from Hebrews 11, in which he explained the principle of spiritual multiplication, building on the ministry foundation that has already been laid. “Dr. Kennedy told me he was going to get a lawn chair when he got to heaven and park by the front gate, so he could see the results of his evangelistic efforts pouring in.”
Rev. Sorensen challenged congregants that in looking at the road ahead, the church has two choices. “Now we have this opportunity to show what kind of faith we have – we can abandon the goals of this great church lead by Dr. Kennedy for 48 years, which would make happy a lot of doubters and naysayers who are very much hoping that the vision and passion of Dr. Kennedy dies with him.
“Another option is that we stand up and believe our calling and make evident the truth of our faith in the coming days,” Rev. Sorensen concluded. “I have not seen another church that has been so dramatically used by God to affect the world, as this flagship church of Evangelism Explosion, which is now in every nation on earth. What would happen if an army of people went out from this place to continue to take the Gospel of Jesus Christ to Ft. Lauderdale and the ends of the earth?”
At tonight’s evening worship, Rev. Sorensen will preach on “From Fear to Faith to Courageous Action,” which will be followed by a special congregational prayer service for the family and memorial events honoring the life and legacy of Dr. Kennedy that will continue this week at Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church, 5555 Federal Highway in Ft. Lauderdale.
Dr. Kennedy’s body will lie in repose in the Grand Narthex on Wednesday, September 12, from noon until 9 PM EDT, with access through the Concert Series walkway. A public funeral service will be held in the main sanctuary the following day at 1 PM EDT (doors open at 11 AM), featuring Focus on the Family founder Dr. James Dobson bringing the main eulogy. Attendees are asked to use a satellite parking facility at the American Golf Course, 3850 N. Federal Highway, with transport to the church beginning at 10:00 AM.
A private interment ceremony will take place on Friday.
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EDITORS’ NOTE: Downloadable audio actuality of Dr. Kennedy’s remarks and video b-roll of today’s services are available at www.DJamesKennedyNews.com.
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