William R. Bright

October 19, 1921 — July 19, 2003

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William R. Bright passed away on July 19, 2003, at the age of 81. Bright faithfully served on the Board of Trustees of The King’s College from 1997 until his passing. With his wife Vonette, Bright co-founded Campus Crusade for Christ (now Cru) in 1951 and spent more than half a century leading the organization. He and Vonette played a pivotal role in the College’s reopening in New York City in 1999.

Bright was born on October 19, 1921, near Coweta, Okla., the sixth child of a local cattle rancher. He attended a one-room schoolhouse until high school, where he excelled in academics, student government, and debate. Coweta was also where Bright met his future wife, Vonette Zachary. After high school, Bright attended Oklahoma’s Northeastern State University. Upon graduating in 1944, he moved to Los Angeles and started a growing candy business called Bright’s California Confections. During this time, he began to attend the First Presbyterian Church in Hollywood, where he was converted to Christ.

After becoming a Christian, Bright began taking theological classes at Princeton Theological Seminary, and then transferred to Fuller Theological Seminary. In 1951, Bright was struck by the Great Commission’s command to “go and make disciples of all nations,” which caused him to leave his candy business and pursue ministry full-time. That year, Bill and Vonette began to meet with students from UCLA and started Cru, which has since grown into the largest Christian ministry of its kind, serving students, cities, athletes, businesses, and unreached people all over the world.

Bright is the author of a well-known booklet on how to have a personal relationship with Jesus titled Four Spiritual Laws. This booklet has been translated into over 200 languages and distributed throughout the world. In 1979, Bright and Cru created The Jesus Film, a full-length documentary on the life of Jesus. The film has been seen by more than 5.1 billion people in 225 countries and has been translated into 1,400 languages. Through these and other initiatives, Bright was able to help share the gospel with billions of people throughout the world, impacting the lives of so many people for Christ.

In addition to these ministry achievements, Bright was one of the key champions of the College’s reopening in 1999. His leadership and vision catalyzed the King’s Board of Trustees and helped re-establish The King’s College in New York City.

The King’s College offers a scholarship in honor of Bill and Vonette Bright for incoming students whose parents serve full-time with Cru or Campus Crusade for Christ International. In 2021, the general scholarship fund which supports need- and merit-based scholarships for all students was named the Bill and Vonette Bright Scholarship Fund to honor their legacy at the College.

This bio was adapted from Cru’s website.

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Northeastern State University