Chattanooga religious leader rises from humble beginnings to Hall of Fame.
In 1970, when Kay Arthur was teaching a Bible study to teenagers in a former chicken barn, the idea of a television ministry was foreign to her.
“I never knew what God had in store,” said the co-founder of Chattanooga-based Precept Ministries International. “His grace just overwhelms me. I understand so much that it’s not me, but it’s him.”
On Tuesday, Arthur will receive the Hall of Fame Award from the National Religious Broadcasters at its annual convention and exposition in Nashville.
It is, according to officials, the body’s most prestigious award.
“Kay Arthur’s paramount concern is for the sheep to follow the Good Shepherd,” NRB president and chief executive officer Frank Wright said in a news release. “Kay and Jack [Arthur, her husband and ministry co-founder] have dedicated four decades to equip Christians with the tools necessary to mine the Scriptures on their own.”
She joins only 58 others — only a handful of women — who have been given the Hall of Fame Award. The recipients include such names as Billy Graham, Charles Colson, D. James Kennedy, Pat Robertson and James Dobson.
“It’s very humbling,” Arthur said. “These are men I admire.”
From the teen ministry she began in 1970, she and her husband launched Reach-Out Ranch, which later became Precept.
A local radio show on WMBW was her first foray into broadcasting, Arthur said. That led to further work in Atlanta, to wider television exposure and to an eventual invitation to join the NRB board of directors in the 1980s.
Early on, when her Bible teaching program was offered to television stations, she said, some
stations didn’t want it because she wasn’t doing a program as a wife, a mother, a homemaker or a counselor.
“They didn’t want me because I was a woman and I was teaching the Bible,” Arthur said.
Ultimately, she became a member of the NRB executive committee and then its secretary.
“These are things I never planned, things I never had ambitions for,” Arthur said.
Today, Precept reaches nearly 150 countries, and its inductive Bible studies have been translated into nearly 70 languages.
Arthur is the teacher and host of “Precepts for Life,” a radio and television program that reaches a worldwide viewing audience of more than 94 million people.
If she has done anything over the years, she said, she’s “always upheld and taught the word of God.”
What guides her, Arthur said, are the words of a prayer by Jesus in John 17:8, “For I have given to them the words which you have given me,” and Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 15:10, “But by the grace of God I am what I am ... yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.”
Though some people today are “distorting the Word,” attempting to “build their kingdom, to get money” or “to get fame,” she said, “Precept Ministries takes you directly to the word of God and helps you discover the truth for yourself.
“That’s what our ministry is all about. I never apologize for it. You can’t live a life [as you should] if you don’t know what God tells you.”
Clint Cooper is the faith editor and a staff writer for the Times Free Press Life section. He also has been an assistant sports editor and Metro staff writer for the newspaper. Prior to the merger between the Chattanooga Free Press and Chattanooga Times in 1999, he was sports news editor for the Chattanooga Free Press, where he was in charge of the day-to-day content of the section and the section’s design. Before becoming sports ...