Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church
History and museums
Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church is a Christian megachurch within the Presbyterian Church in America located in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, USA. It was founded in 1960 by D. James Kennedy (1930–2007), who served as the church's senior pastor until his death in 2007. The present church building seating 2,800 persons was dedicated on February 3, 1974 by evangelist Billy Graham. It became affiliated with the Presbyterian Church in America denomination on May 16, 1978; Coral Ridge was originally a member congregation of the Presbyterian Church in the United States, the so-called "Southern" church before 1983.
Beginning in 1978 under pastor D. James Kennedy, the church's weekly services were televised as the Coral Ridge Hour, eventually reaching a nationwide audience of more than 3 million. Production of new broadcasts from the church were discontinued in 2007 after Kennedy's death, although reruns of Kennedy's sermons continue to air on some networks.
The Westminster Academy and Knox Theological Seminary, also in Ft. Lauderdale, are educational ministries of the church. W. Tullian Tchividjian, a grandson of Billy Graham, succeeded Kennedy as senior pastor of the church in April 2009 until June 2015.
The church was founded by D. James Kennedy on May 22, 1960, who began with a congregation of 45 persons attending a typical Sunday service at a rented elementary school auditorium. Kennedy developed the "Evangelism Explosion" ("EE") method of evangelism in the 1960s, which emphasizes the training of church laypeople to share their faith by home visitation in the community. Coral Ridge became the fastest-growing Presbyterian church in the U.S. in the 1960s and had 1,366 members by 1968. Outgrowing its first church built in the early 1960s, construction of the church's present 2,800-seat sanctuary, surmounted by a 300-foot (91 m) tower and designed in a modern style, was undertaken in the early 1970s, making it one of the tallest churches in the United States. On December 21, 1973, the first services were held in the church's new building. In February, 1974, the sanctuary was formally dedicated by Billy Graham. By the 1980s, the church's membership had grown to a few thousand persons. Evangelism Explosion was the subject of Kennedy's doctoral dissertation, who said he earned a Ph.D. "to dispel the idea there is an inconsistency between evangelism and education...evangelical ministers need to be thoroughly educated and equipped to meet on equal terms anyone with whom they come in contact". A 1970 film, Like a Mighty Army, starring actor Chris Robinson as Kennedy, portrayed the Evangelism Explosion story at the church.
By the 1980s, the church's television ministry had a weekly audience of 3.5 million viewers, as the Coral Ridge Hour aired on more than 400 stations and four cable networks, including the Trinity Broadcasting Network, The Inspiration Network (INSP) and the NRB Network, as well as broadcast to more than 150 countries on the Armed Forces Network.
As the result of a heart attack from which he never fully recovered, Kennedy last preached at Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church on December 24, 2006. His retirement was officially announced at the church on August 26, 2007, and he died in his home ten days later. In a statement following news of Kennedy's retirement, the church announced the development of the D. James Kennedy Legacy website in tribute to the life of the Christian evangelist.
The church's senior pastor from 2009-2015 was Tullian Tchividjian, a native Floridian born in Jacksonville. Named after third century theologian Tertullian, he is a grandson of famed evangelist Billy Graham. Previously, he was the pastor of New City Presbyterian Church, an Evangelical Presbyterian Church congregation meeting at a high school in nearby Coconut Creek. He was invited on January 12, 2009, to become Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church's senior minister, as part of a merger of the two congregations. The Coral Ridge congregation approved Tchividjian's appointment and merger of the two churches by vote on March 15, 2009, with 920 of the 1,014 members present voting in favor. Tchividjian was installed as the church's current senior pastor on Easter Sunday, April 12, 2009. He studied philosophy at Columbia International University and earned a divinity degree at Reformed Theological Seminary. His writings include Do I Know God? Finding Certainty in Life's Most Important Relationship, Unfashionable: Making a Difference in the World by Being Different, Surprised by Grace: God's Relentless Pursuit of Rebels and Jesus + Nothing = Everything. At the beginning of 2009, the church had 2,200 members and weekly attendance averaged 1,800 persons.
On June 21, 2015, Tchividjian announced that he had resigned as senior pastor at Coral Ridge Presbyterian after admitting having an affair himself, following an affair on the part of his wife.
The church has had a rich history of traditional music, especially with the Rufatti pipe organ at its heart, beginning with the start of the church, more than 50 years ago. With the appointment of Tchividjian the musical style shifted toward a contemporary style, and for the first time it became more commonplace than traditional.
The large Fratelli Ruffatti pipe organ, built in 1974, has 6,600 pipes in 117 ranks. In 2004 the organ became expanded with the addition of 61 digital voices, resulting in the equivalent of 178 ranks altogether. Samuel Metzger, the organist from 2003 until his resignation on September 24, 2009, has recorded seven CDs of music on the Rufatti instrument. The organ is also regularly featured on the world-renowned Joy of Music television programs of Diane Bish, one of the church's former organists, and is often heard on the Sacred Classics radio show and in recordings by the church's choir. Other former organists include Rebecca Owens, Colin Howland, and Garrett F. Martin. Organist Diane Bish is best known for her 20-year affiliation with The Joy of Music television series, which started at the church. Beginning in early 2013, Chelsea Chen began playing occasionally for services as guest organist, and has since been officially appointed to the position of organist and artist in residence at the church.
A number of phonograph records and compact discs of the choir and organ have been released since the 1970s, including: