D. James Kennedy was born in Augusta, Georgia, but moved to Chicago, Illinois, in childhood. He studied at the University of Tampa (BA) and began preaching at the small Bethel Presbyterian Church in nearby Clearwater, Florida. In 1959 Kennedy entered Columbia Theological Seminary, receiving a Master of Divinity degree. After his ordination in 1959, Kennedy became the pastor of Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church, where he remained until his death (2007).
He founded the Coral Ridge Ministries in 1974, which produced his weekly religious television program, The Coral Ridge Hour, carried on various networks and syndicated on numerous other stations with a peak audience of three million viewers in 200 countries. A daily radio program, Truths That Transform, was heard on radio stations in all the United States.
Writer of over 12 books, including: Cross Purposes: Discovering the Great Love of God for You (2007), Evangelism Explosion (1996) and The Da Vinci Myth Versus the Gospel Truth (2006).
On August 25, 1956, he married Anne Lewis, they had one daughter, Jennifer.