John Vernon McGee was born in Hillsboro, Texas, in 1904. Dr. McGee remarked, "When I was born and the doctor gave me the customary whack, my mother said that I let out a yell that could be heard on all four borders of Texas!" His Creator well knew that he would need a powerful voice to deliver a powerful message.
As a student pastor, Dr. McGee's first church was located on a red clay hill in Midway Georgia. It was there that he received his greatest compliment: "It was from a country boy wearing high buttoned, yellow shoes. After a morning service he came to speak to me. He groped for words, then blurted out, 'I never knew Jesus was so wonderful!' He started to say more but choked up and hurried out of the church. As I watched him stride across the field, I prayed, 'Oh, God, help me to always preach so that it can be said, I never knew Jesus was so wonderful.'"
After completing his education (earning his A.B. from Southwestern University in Memphis, Tennessee; his B.D. from Columbia Theological Seminary in Decatur, Georgia; his Th.M. and Th.D. from Dallas Theological Seminary in Dallas, Texas), and after pastoring Presbyterian churches in Decatur, GA, Nashville, TN, and Cleburne, TX, he and his wife came west, settling in Pasadena, where he accepted a call to the Lincoln Avenue Presbyterian Church. He recalls this period as the happiest in his life, with a young family and a young congregation whom he loved.
Dr. McGee's greatest pastorate was at the historic, Church of the Open Door in downtown Los Angeles, where he served from 1949 to 1970. There he began a daily radio broadcast called "High Noon Bible Class" on a single station.
Dr. McGee began teaching Thru the Bible in 1967. After retiring from the pastorate, he set up radio headquarters in Pasadena, and the radio ministry expanded rapidly. Today the program airs on over 400 stations each day in the United States and Canada, is heard in more than 100 languages around the world and is broadcast worldwide via the Internet.
During his last few years, failing health demanded the cancellation of many speaking engagements. This was extremely distressing to him. There was no recurrence of an earlier bout with cancer during this time, only a weakening heart. Back in 1965, after radical surgery, the doctors had given him 6 months to live. The Lord gave him 23 years.
Dr. McGee and the Board of Directors planned in advance how the program would continue in the event of Dr. McGee's homegoing. The message would remain the same and the "voice" of Thru the Bible Radio would continue to be Dr. McGee, through the use of the taped 5-year program, except for those foreign language broadcasts, where the producers use the printed 5-volume Bible study to translate and produce the program.
On the morning of December 1, 1988, a few minutes after a visit with the then Associate Director of Thru the Bible, alert and in conversation centered around his concern for the continuance of the radio ministry, Dr. McGee fell asleep in his chair and quietly passed into the presence of his Savior.