Christian broadcasters this past week have been mourning the loss of Ron Hembree, president of Cornerstone TeleVision, who died last Thursday at the age of 72.
"It is with great sadness I announce to you that our beloved brother and friend went to heaven the evening of June 10," reported Cornerstone TeleVision Founder Norma Bixler in a video statement.
"Encourager, teacher, godly example, and friend – all these and more can be said of Ron Hembree," added Dr. Frank Wright, president and CEO of the National Religious Broadcasters, in a separate statement. "Loved and respected by many in the NRB, Ron's steady leadership and optimistic outlook will be sorely missed."
After having begun his career writing for the national headquarters of the Assemblies of God, Hembree later felt a strong call to Christian television and launched his first daily Bible study program, "Rejoice," in 1979.
As president of Cornerstone TeleVision Network (CTVN), Hembree brought together both an extensive background in pastoring and media ministry.
One of Hembree's signature programs on CTVN was "Quick Study," which led viewers through the Bible in one year. The program is still running after 20 years.
Hembree's dual passion for the Word and missions also led him to author 65 books and write hundreds of articles in publications including Billy Graham's Decision magazine and Christian Life.
"Everything he did in life revolved around ministry and his love for the Lord," commented his son, Chad Hembree.
NRB Sr. Vice President and General Counsel Craig Parshall similarly highlighted Hembree's "zeal for the Lord" along with his "profound appreciation for the impact of Christian television, and a clear understanding of the issues that confronted those in Gospel broadcasting."
"His labors in God's vineyard, I am sure, will continue to yield a great harvest for years to come," Parshall added.
Hembree is survived by his wife, Cathy; his mother, Lucy; six children; and six grandchildren.
His memorial service, scheduled for July 7 at Cornerstone Ministries in Export, Pa., will take place at 11:00 a.m. and will be aired on CTVN at 7 p.m. that evening and three days later at 8 p.m.
"I ask you keep Cathy, Ron's wife, his mother, and the Hembree family in your prayers," announced CTVN's Bixler in her statement. "Speaking for the staff and board here at Cornerstone TeleVision Network, we would appreciate your prayers also.
"We all loved him very much, and he loved us."