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Campus Crusade for Christ cofounder Vonette Bright dies at 89

ORLANDO, Fla. — Vonette Bright, cofounder of Campus Crusade for Christ and an internationally known leader in prayer and women’s ministry, died Dec. 23 from complications related to acute leukemia. She was 89.

Bright and her husband Bill, who died in 2003, launched Campus Crusade, now known in the U.S. as Cru, at UCLA in 1951. It has since grown into what news reports called the world’s largest Christian ministry, with 25,000 staff members and 300,000 volunteers working in 173 countries.

Vonette Bright also was instrumental in petitioning Congress and the president to designate the first Thursday of every May as National Day of Prayer. After Ronald Reagan signed legislation establishing the National Day of Prayer in 1988, Bright chaired the National Day of Prayer Task Force for nine years.

In a 2011 letter from Rev. Billy Graham to Vonette, Graham wrote, “Your single-minded focus on the power of intercessory prayer has been both an encouragement to my life and a model for the church. Heavenly records will one day reveal the full impact of your prayer life and the teaching ministry in the lives of countless persons who have come to faith in Christ.”

She authored more than a dozen books and in 1993 founded the women’s ministry Women Today International.

In 1973 Vonette was named Churchwoman of the Year by Religious Heritage of America. In 1982 she was honored as International Church Woman of the Year by Religion in America and named distinguished alumna of Texas Woman’s University. In 1988 the Brights were inducted into the Religion in Media International Communication Galaxy of Fame at the International Angel Awards, and in 1995 Vonette was named Christian Woman of the Year.

In 2000, the Brights received the Lifetime Inspiration Award from Religious Heritage of America Foundation. Vonette received honorary doctorate degrees from Los Angeles Bible College in 1979 and from King Sejong University, Seoul, Korea, in 1985.

Among those paying tribute to Bright on the Cru website were evangelist Billy Graham and women’s ministry leader Beth Moore.

“Vonette had a heart for the Gospel and an extraordinary vision to reach people for Jesus Christ,” Graham said. “Her single-minded focus on the power of intercessory prayer has been both an encouragement to my life and a model for the church.”

Moore noted, “I can’t think of a single person on the planet that I respect more than Vonette Bright. She is 10 feet tall in my eyes. Like so many others, I have been profoundly impacted by her long obedience. She is a gift to our generation.”

A public memorial service has been scheduled Jan. 8 at First Presbyterian Church in Orlando.

—BP news was used in this report.

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