INDIANAPOLIS - Indiana's Governor Mitch Daniels honored gospel music singing and songwriting pioneers Bill and Gloria Gaither of Alexandria, Ind., on April 2 with the 2008 Sachem Award, the state's highest honor.

"With all the success they have achieved, the Gaithers still live with us: in the house in which they raised their children, in the way in which they raised those children, in the way in which they and their music have spoken to us and to the better angels of our nature now for 50 plus years," said Daniels.

The Sachem is given annually by the Governor of Indiana to recognize a lifetime of excellence and moral virtue that has brought credit and honor to Indiana.

The Gaithers, a favorite of many United Methodists nation-wide, have collaborated on more than 700 popular gospel songs, winning eight Grammy Awards and more than two dozen Dove Awards from The Gospel Music Association (GMA). The Indianapolis Star named "He Touched Me" (#367 in The United Methodist Hymnal) among the top 10 songs of the 20th century written by a Hoosier. The UM Hymnal also has three other Gaither songs.

Bill Gaither told Together that the three leading users of their music are Southern Baptists, Roman Catholics and United Methodists.