Tullian Tchividjian, a grandson of evangelist Billy Graham, has been formally chosen to succeed the late D. James Kennedy as senior pastor of Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
Tchividjian, 36, founded New City Church in nearby Coconut Creek 5 1/2 years ago. That congregation will merge with Coral Ridge and joint worship should begin there on Easter Sunday, he said.
Tchividjian called Kennedy, a broadcaster who used the airwaves to get fellow conservatives to be active in faith and politics, “a giant in the faith” whose footsteps he is pleased to follow.
“As different as some may think Dr. Kennedy and I are, our theological commitments are the same and our hearts beat with the same driving passion,” Tchividjian said in a statement. “Indeed, what he came to do in the 1950s — reach the people of South Florida with the gospel and transform the world — is exactly what I have been seeking to do ever since I moved back home to start New City in 2003.”
Tchividjian is one of the seven children of Gigi Graham, who is divorced from his father, Stephan Tchividjian. He was a toddler when his grandfather spoke at a dedication ceremony for Coral Ridge’s sanctuary in 1974. Tullian Tchividjian dropped out of the church’s Westminster Academy when he was 16, but later graduated from college and seminary and went on to lead a church in Tennessee for two years before founding New City.
Coral Ridge, which currently has 2,200 members, is affiliated with the Presbyterian Church in America. New City, with 650 members, will change its affiliation from the Evangelical Presbyterian Church to the PCA. Both denominations are theologically conservative.
In his statement, Tchividjian said his grandfather “couldn’t be more excited” about the new position.