Journal ChrÃ©tien, France
Jan 24 2009
Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church chooses pastor
Saturday 24 January 2009
By Dan Wooding
William Graham Tullian Tchividjian, the grandson of Billy Graham is in
line to become the senior pastor of Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church in
Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
Tchividjian will be only the second senior pastor the Fort Lauderdale
church has ever had. Its founding pastor, the Rev. D. James Kennedy,
died in September 2007 at the age of 76.
In a story written by James D. Davis, Religion Editor for South
Florida for the Sun-Sentinel, David said that when officials of Coral
Ridge Presbyterian Church asked him to consider becoming their next
pastor, the Rev. Tullian Tchividjian made one point clear: It was him
and his church or not at all.
`I said, `I’m flattered, but God put me at New City Church,” the
Margate (Florida)-based minister told Davis, referring to that first
meeting last spring. `We talked informally about a merger last summer,
but I thought neither church was ready.’
Davis continued, `Coral Ridge clearly was ready by this past Sunday:
Gasps, then applause, greeted Tchividjian’s name as Dr. Dan Westphal,
head of Coral Ridge’s search committee, announced it during the
`And this time, the deal includes the prospective merger of the
churches. If all goes well ‘ still ahead is a month of talks by heads
of both churches, plus a congregational vote ‘ Tchividjian will be
only the second senior pastor the Fort Lauderdale church has ever
He went on to say that the prospective pastor is a grandson of Billy
Graham with a taste for surfing, pop music and powerful preaching. He
is one of seven children of Gigi Tchividjian, the eldest daughter of
Billy and Ruth Graham. His father, Swiss-Armenian psychologist Stephan
Tchividjian, is a member of New City Church.
`Born in Jacksonville and raised in South Florida, Tullian ‘ his full
name is William Graham Tullian Tchividjian ‘ was named after
Tertullian, a theologian of the second and third centuries,’ said
`He is the only one of the famous evangelist’s grandchildren to be the
senior pastor of a church; his older brother Stephan Jr., is a
minister at Calvary Chapel of Fort Lauderdale. New City Church has
offices in Margate and holds worship services at Monarch High School
in Coconut Creek.
`The proposed merger would join different kinds of congregations as
well: Tchividjian’s vigorous, 5-1/2-year-old church with attendance of
600 to 700, and an established, half-century-old church of 2,200
members and weekly attendance of 1,800.’
Westphal said at the Sunday service, `This will be an exciting legacy
for both Dr. Kennedy and Billy Graham. I’ve come to know Tullian well,
and he is a godly man.’
Davis went on to say that representatives on both sides stressed that
the possible merger, and Tchividjian’s proposed Coral Ridge pastorate,
still are not definite.
`Both churches have agreed to consider a merger,’ said a statement
released today by New City Church’s session, or governing board, which
agreed on Jan. 13 to explore the idea. But it added that legal,
financial, ministerial, philosophical and `structural’ matters would
have to be worked out.
Tchividjian, said Davis, already has several links with Coral
Ridge. His famous grandfather preached the dedication sermon of the
church sanctuary in 1974. Tullian hosts a show on WAFG-FM 90.3, the
church’s radio station, and occasionally preaches during chapel hour
at its Westminster Academy.
He also attended the school but dropped out during a period of
rebellion ‘ sinking into South Florida’s `pleasure-saturated culture,’
as he told the Sun Sentinel in 2007. He then came to a personal faith
in Jesus at the age of 21 and returned to a Christian lifestyle.
He earned degrees in philosophy at Columbia International University
in South Carolina, and in divinity at Reformed Theological Seminary in
He has written two books for Multnomah Press in Colorado Springs: Do I
Know God? Finding Certainty in Life’s Most Important Relationship, and
Unfashionable: Making a Difference in the World by Being Different,
due out in April.
`Besides church work, Tchividjian enjoys weightlifting while playing
the likes of Coldplay or John Mayer on his iPod,’ continued Davis. `He
also enjoys surfing when time permits, as well as spending time with
wife Kim and their children.
`Sunday’s announcement capped a year of work by Coral Ridge’s
15-member Pulpit Nominating Committee, which considered 150 to 175
ministers in more than 15 states, plus other countries.
`Coral Ridge actually approached Tchividjian three times, the minister
said. First was in May for the pastorate alone.
`The second time, from summer to the end of September, the churches
discussed merger, but New City backed away, unsure of the
complexities, Tchividjian said.
`The committee approached him again just before Christmas and got a
warmer reception. `When something comes around a third time, we felt
God could be doing something, and we should start asking about it,’ he
Davis said that Coral Ridge officers, though, are enthusiastic about
the idea of Tchividjian coming. When the members settled on his name
on Jan. 12, `we felt tremendous enthusiasm, an excitement almost like
electricity,’ Westphal said.
He added that over the next month, representatives from each church
will discuss terms of the possible merger. If they agree, the proposal
will go to each church’s board of elders. If that’s approved as well,
Tchividjian will preach a guest sermon, followed by a congregational
Davis stated that Tchividjian was cautious about discussing any
changes he might make at the helm of Coral Ridge. However, he said the
Coral Ridge leaders had asked him to bring the `vision’ he instilled
at New City Church, a vision of `revival and renewal for all of South
Florida.’ New City is also known for blending traditional beliefs with
modern methods, mixing hymns and contemporary Christian songs.
The minister said he also values a collegial church culture, `where
the elders, the staff and the deacons are all friends, not just fellow
workers. They should all be pulling on the same side of the rope.’
Tchividjian said he shares Coral Ridge’s longtime values of
`passionate preaching’ and `robust theological commitment.’ But he
added that his selection as pastor shows the larger, older church
`For anyone who thinks Coral Ridge can’t change, this demonstrates
that that is just not true,’ he said.
Â© Assist News
From: Emil Lazarian | Ararat NewsPress