NASHVILLE, TN-Contemporary Christian singer/songwriter Rich Mullins was killed in an automobile accident late Friday, September 19, in LaSalle County, Illinois. Mitch McVicker, who performed with Mullins was also involved in the accident and is listed in critical condition. Mullins is survived by his mother, two older sisters and two younger brothers.
Although the accident claimed Mullins' life, his legacy will continue through the music that he recorded during his ten year career as an artist at Reunion Records. Current Reunion Records president and former president of the Gospel Music Association, Bruce Koblish said, "We are all deeply saddened at the tragic loss of Rich Mullins. Rich's life and his songs always reflected truth and honesty, stripped of all superficiality and conventionality. He challenged us to live life with purpose and meaning and to know God intimately. The legacy he left us with will live on through his music."
Mullins' critically acclaimed career began with his first self titled recording in 1986. Between 1986 and 1996, Mullins recorded nine records for Reunion including his last recording Songs, a collection of Rich's most well-known hits. Mullins is perhaps best known for writing the church standards Awesome God, which in 1989 was voted one of the top three songs of the decade by the Christian Research Report, and Sometimes By Step, in addition to eight other number one songs. During his life, Mullins was nominated for twelve Dove Awards and had his songs recorded by artists such as Amy Grant with Sing Your Praise to the Lord, Love of Another Kind and Doubly Good to You.
Mullins was a skilled songwriter and a proficient musician who mastered the guitar, piano and hammer dulcimer. Reed Arvin, long time friend and producer of seven recordings for Mullins said, "Rich Mullins was the best writer in contemporary Christian music, and he is utterly irreplaceable. He wasn't really happy, if happy means contented. But he turned his discontent into art, separating himself from the careerists that thought it would be neat to make money out of Jesus. The first thing I am going to do when I see him in heaven is beg his forgiveness for being so inept at bringing his songs to light."
Many of the artists that Rich impacted most were those in the Reunion "family". Carolyn Arends states, "Rich Mullins was my hero long before I met him. Like thousands of his fans, I treasured up certain lines of his songs the way that you store away all the sunsets, prayers and late-night conversations that break through your consciousness and change you forever. Rich seemed to have more than his share of startling, profound, life giving insights into the heart of God-more than even the usual quota for prophets, poets, or saints-and they rhymed."
Michael W. Smith states, "Rich Mullins' life and music has impacted me more than anyone I know. He had the ability to take the mundane and make it majestic. Nobody on this planet wrote songs like he did and I feel we've lost one of the only true poets in our industry. I love Rich Mullins...and no one will ever know how much I'll miss him."
Mac Powell, lead singer of Reunion Records' Third Day said, "This is a big loss for so many people. We're really glad that we had the opportunity to know Rich and only wish that we could have spent more time with him. I have been very affected by his music through the years, and I know that I will miss him. His influence will live on through his music."
His music was not the only way that Rich touched peoples' lives. He spent much of his time working with Native Americans in the southwest and with Compassion International. Mullins once stated, "I hope that I would leave a legacy of joy, a legacy of real compassion, because I think there is a great joy in compassion. I don't think that you can know joy apart from caring deeply about people-caring enough to actually do something."
Both the Mullins and the McVicker families have asked that in lieu of flowers, donations should be made to Compassion International, c/o Rich Mullins Memorial Fund, P.O. Box 7000, Colorado Springs, CO, 80933. Cards may be sent to Kid Brothers of St. Frank, P.O. Box 11526, Wichita, KS, 67202.
A memorial service will be held at 10 a.m. on Friday, September 26, at Christ Presbyterian Church, 2323 Old Hickory Blvd. A public service will be held in Wichita, KS, at 7 p.m. Saturday, September 27, at Henry Levitt Arena on the campus of Wichita State University. For more information about this service, please call 316-262-7159.
"If my life is motivated by an ambition to leave a legacy, what I would probably leave is a legacy of ambition. But, if my life is motivated by the power of God's spirit in me and the awareness of the indwelling Christ, if I allow His presence to guide my motives, that's the only time I think we really leave a great legacy."--Rich Mullins 1955-1997
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