(Photo: AP Images / Wilfredo Lee, File)
A grandson of world renowned evangelist Billy Graham has been extended an invitation to become the new senior minister at the South Florida megachurch founded by the late Dr. D. James Kennedy.
After reviewing more than 150 candidates over the course of more than a year, the Pulpit Nominating Committee (PNC) of Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church selected Pastor William Graham Tullian Tchividjian, 36, on Jan. 12 and announced their recommendation to the congregation this past Sunday.
"This will be an exciting legacy for both Dr. Kennedy and Billy Graham," said Dr. Dan Westphal, head of the Pulpit Nominating Committee, according to the local Sun Sentinel newspaper. "I've come to know Tullian well, and he is a godly man."
Tchividjian (pronounced cha-vi-jin), who is the son of Billy and Ruth Graham’s eldest daughter, Gigi, is currently serving as the senior pastor of the nearby church he founded, New City Church in Margate. Though his recommendation was celebrated by Coral Ridge members Sunday, for the decision to be finalized, representatives from both churches will need to first work out the details of a proposed church merger.
“[B]ecause of Pastor Tullian's unwavering commitment to remain as Pastor here at New City, both churches have agreed to consider a merger,” announced New City in an official statement.
But merging will “require a time of due diligence,” the church added, given the intricacies of the proposal.
Simply put, it will require much more than just physically moving members from one church to another.
“Legal matters, financial matters, ministerial matters, structural matters, and philosophical matters, will be among the list of things needing to be discussed and hammered out,” New City church leaders reported. “Only if agreeable terms on all of these fronts can be reached and those terms approved by both church sessions would Tullian formally accept the call and the two become one.”
Though Tchividjian has 30 days to consider the invitation, Coral Ridge is optimistic.
“We are excited by the prospect of Pastor Tchividjian coming to CRPC,” the PNC reported.
“This would be an incredible opportunity to become the lighthouse for ministry and proclaiming the Gospel locally, regionally, nationally, and internationally,” they added.
If agreeable terms can be reached and approved by the sessions of both churches, Tchividjian will accept the invitation and will preach at Coral Ridge, following which the congregation will vote on whether to officially issue the call to Tchividjian to become the senior minister of the church.
Voting will take place during a special meeting for communing members above 16 years of age in good and regular standing. Voting by absentee ballot is not permitted and a majority of all the voters present shall be required to elect.
If the vote is unanimous or nearly so, the results shall be brought to the South Florida Presbytery where the candidate will be examined for his views in all areas of ministry, approved and installed at a special Service of Installation as the new Senior Minister.
Should everything work out as hoped, Tchividjian will be only the second pastor in five decades at the Fort Lauderdale church.
Coral Ridge’s founding pastor, the Rev. D. James Kennedy, died in September 2007 at the age of 76 after making his mark as one of the most prominent and influential conservative Christians in America. Today, Kennedy’s radio and television ministry, The Coral Ridge Hour, has a weekly audience of 3.5 million people and is broadcast to more than 150 countries.