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Freedom Defender

Recently retired AG chaplain Wesley Modder receives prestigious award.

Recently retired Assemblies of God U.S. Missions chaplain Wesley J. Modder received the highest recognition from Freedom Alliance, the annual Defender of Freedom Award, Thursday night in Arlington, Virginia.

Freedom Alliance feted Modder in recognition of his faithful service to the nation and his unwavering commitment to protect religious freedom. Freedom Alliance cited Modder’s exceptional service record, his counseling to elite warriors including U.S. Navy SEALs, and his withstanding bureaucratic hostility in the armed forces.

Previous recipients of the award have included U.S. Army General Tommy Franks and John Bolton, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. Modder is the first to receive the award for efforts as a chaplain. Oliver North, who founded Freedom Alliance in 1990, presented the award to Modder.

“Chaplains are crucial to the emotional and spiritual well-being of our fighting force and Wes Modder was among the best in the military’s ranks,” said Freedom Alliance President Tom Kilgannon. “His courage in defeating politically motivated attacks on him and his faith ensure the ability of other chaplains to minister according to their beliefs.” 

Modder said the award humbled him, and he is grateful for having served with courageous young men and women in the military.

Last year, Modder endured discrimination charges against him brought in a legal case. Several sailors took issue with the biblical teachings Modder shared in private counseling sessions they requested. Charges ultimately were dismissed .

AG General Superintendent George O. Wood sent a congratulatory letter to Modder in recognition of the honor.

“The General Council of the Assemblies of God wishes to thank you for your faithful service to our country and unwavering commitment to protect freedom in our great nation,” Wood wrote. “What an honor that you, as an Assemblies of God military chaplain, have been chosen to receive such a prestigious award. This speaks very highly of your dedication, commitment, and outstanding leadership.”

Modder, 50, retired in September as an AG U.S. Navy chaplain lieutenant commander after 21 years of military service. He assumed the position of lead pastor of The Stone Church in Orland Park, Illinois, in October.

Scott McChrystal, AG U.S. Missions military and VA representative and endorser for AG Chaplaincy Ministries, also commended Modder, who served as a Marine in Operation Desert Shield and Operation Desert Storm before becoming a chaplain.

“Chaplain Modder fought bravely for the cause of religious freedom,” McChrystal says. “His efforts came at personal cost, both to him and his family. After more than 20 years of faithful service to the military community, I anticipate that Wes and his wife, Beth, will continue to have enormous impact for the Lord as they pastor Stone Church.”

The historic Stone Church is site of the second General Council held in 1914, where leaders declared, “We commit ourselves and the Movement to Him for the greatest evangelism that the world has ever seen.” Stone Church is commemorating its 110th anniversary on Dec. 11.

John W. Kennedy

John W. Kennedy served as news editor of AG News from its inception in 2014 until retiring in 2023. He previously spent 15 years as news editor of the Pentecostal Evangel and seven years as news editor at Christianity Today.