Superintendent's Medals of Honor Awarded
During the Friday morning business session of the General Council, General Superintendent Thomas E. Trask awarded Dave Kyllonen, Duane Nicholson and Neil Enloe of the original “The Couriers” music ministry team and layman Richard Hammar the prestigious General Superintendent’s Medal of Honor.
The Medal of Honor is the highest award the Assemblies of God bestows upon a layperson and is reserved for those who have greatly distinguished themselves through meritorious service to God, the church and fellow citizens.
Following is the recognition given by General Superintendent Trask during the presentation.
The Couriers — Dwight D. Eisenhower was president and gas was under 20 cents a gallon when God placed his call upon three young men students at Central Bible Institute who formed a music ministry team. Some five decades ago, they chose the name “The Couriers” and the rest is history.
Dave Kyllonen, Duane Nicholson, and Neil Enloe have spent these years singing the Good News of Jesus Christ in churches, concerts, prisons, hospital rooms, and countless other places. They have recorded over 40 albums of music, traveled to every state in the Union as well as 80 nations in missionary evangelism.
The Couriers have received three prestigious Dove Awards from the Gospel Music Association. Two of the awards, “Song of the Year” and “Associate Member Award” were bestowed on Neil Enloe for his original music composition, “Statute of Liberty.”
In l980, the group decided to launch out into individual ministries with their families which they did for several years. A few years later, they reorganized and resumed the Couriers. However, in 2000 the three stepped out of the Couriers—but not the music ministry—for the last time. So today they are simply Dave, Duane, and Neil. And they take life at a little slower pace so they aren’t on the road day in and day out as has been the case for so many years.
Their former pastor, Paul Wislocky, says, “I have been friends with Dave, Duane and Neil since our years together as students at Central Bible Institute (now college). I can tell you first hand they always operate within the bounds of ministerial ethics and Christian courtesy. They are men of integrity, heart and vision. They have a tremendous desire to introduce people to the saving grace and power of Jesus Christ. Their focus has always been on ministry. They have exhibited a great love for people, been a consistent example of faithfulness to our Lord, and represented our Fellowship well.
For exemplary lives, bringing glory and honor to God and to this church, it is my privilege to confer upon Dave Kyllonen, Duane Nicholson and Neil Enloe the General Superintendent’s Medal of Honor.
Richard Hammar — For almost 29 years, Richard Hammar has served this church as its first and only legal counsel. Richard had only been a Christian two years when he graduated from Harvard Law School in 1976. He was heavily courted by elite law firms but he had decided to seek God’s will for his life. Little did he know that surrendering to God would lead him in two short years to the Assemblies of God headquarters in Springfield, Missouri. When General Superintendent Thomas F. Zimmerman and the executive presbytery offered him the newly created post of legal counsel, Rich accepted the job, rented a U-haul and with his wife and young daughter, moved to Springfield.
Although he was hired without a job description, he decided as legal counsel his duty was to provide advice on legal matters and to defend the national office against lawsuits.
He soon determined, through voracious reading and self-education to become an authority on church law. Today he is recognized across the nation in that capacity. He writes three professional church law newsletters and has written more than 100 books on church law (averaging 10 books a year). His books are cited by courts and the IRS relies on them—he’s literally written more on church law than anyone, anywhere.
Rich says he approaches the job through St. Augustine’s credo: Work as if the results depend entirely upon your efforts and pray as if the results depend entirely upon God. He views his position as a ministry and a sacred trust.
In addition to his vital role at headquarters, Rich teaches Astronomy at Evangel University and is actively engaged in this hobby. He teaches Church Law at Central Bible College. And he teaches a fourth-grade Sunday school class at Central Assembly, his home church where he also served as a deacon. He has been honored as a Teacher of the Year by the Southern Missouri District Council. Rich plays the cello, is a frequent speaker in and out of the Assemblies of God, and exercises enough to be categorized in the “superior” level of fitness at a national health institute. He loves to sail and even became a certified diesel mechanic in order to fix his boat’s engine.
Richard was recently named one of the 50 most influential Christians in America by Christianity Today magazine.
His pastor, James Bradford, states, “I am impressed with Richard’s commitment to the local church. He prays with people at the altar every Sunday and stays actively interested and involved in the weekly ministries of the church. I have witnessed the considerable influence of his life on the generations of fourth graders who have had him as a Sunday School teacher. He starts every class with the words, ‘Students, you are awesome and you are going to change the world.’”
For an exemplary life, bringing gloy and honor to God and to this church, it is my privilege to confer upon Richard Hammar the General Superintendent’s Medal of Honor.