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BP Ledger, Dec. 30 edition
Posted on Dec 30, 2013 | by Staff

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EDITOR'S NOTE: BP Ledger carries items for reader information each week from various Southern Baptist-related entities, and news releases of interest from other sources. The items are published as received.

Today's BP Ledger contains items from:
Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary
Judson College
Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary
WORLD News Service

Seminary couple retires $32,000 debt
By Alex Sibley

FORT WORTH, Texas (Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary) -- With Christmas fast-approaching, many people are going into debt. Brandon and Alicia Kiesling, on the other hand, are celebrating being out of it. Over the last three years, the couple paid off $32,000 of debt.

"There's a freedom," says Brandon, a doctoral student at Southwestern Seminary. "It's not just about being debt-free. It really is nice to know that every penny that you make from here on out is yours. It's not the bank's, it's not the lending company's, it's yours."

The Kieslings came to Southwestern in fall 2010 so that Brandon could pursue a Master of Divinity degree. With Brandon a full-time student and Alicia a substitute teacher, the couple made only $12,000 their first year. Already in debt from undergraduate student loans, the couple, having read Dave Ramsey's Total Money Makeover, called Ramsey's radio show for advice.

"We had some savings that we had brought down with us," Brandon recalls, "but we didn't know for sure if we should keep a hold of that savings or put it towards debt. So I had that question for [Ramsey], and I told him how much we were making, and he told me to get a job—a weekend job or something—because I needed to provide for my family even while I was going to school."

Brandon first got a weekend pizza delivery job, and then he and Alicia both attained administrative assistant positions, Brandon at the Roy Fish School of Evangelism and Missions at Southwestern and Alicia at a local church.

"We just decided we're going to knock this debt out," Brandon says, "and regardless of how hard it is, we're just going to make this a priority because we don't want to be a slave to debt. The Bible says, as Dave Ramsey quotes all the time, 'The borrower is a slave to the lender' (Proverbs 22:7)."

Their solution for getting out of debt was "working hard and saving money and living below [their] means."

"The biggest thing is the budget," Brandon says. "One thing Dave Ramsey teaches is that you have to tell your money where it's going before it goes, and that's what a budget does every month. That way, you're in control of your money. Your money just doesn't do whatever it wants to do."

The couple made their last student loan payment on Sept. 19, 2013.

"[That day] was a celebration," Brandon says. "My wife and I both sat there in front of the computer, and we pushed the button together and just instantly felt like we accomplished something great.

"One of the greatest things that we have now is we've changed our family tree. We now can say that our son will be debt-free for his entire life, as long as we teach him the same principles and he follows them. He has the ability to live life without any debt. And that's a pretty cool concept: to be able to not only change your life but change the next generation."

Brandon encourages other students to strive to pay off debt as well.

"If you can get control of your debt and take care of it before you get out of seminary," Brandon says, "you can go wherever God wants you to go. You don't have to worry about a salary amount. If a church calls you in the middle of nowhere and God calls you to that, you don't have to worry about it because you've got [your debt] taken care of."
--30--
Alex Sibley is a news writer for Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas (www.swbts.edu/campusnews).
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Judson president recognized for his outstanding leadership
By Staff

MARION, Ala. (Judson College) Dr. David E. Potts, President of Judson College in Marion, Alabama, recently received the James T. Rogers Distinguished Leadership Award for his outstanding contributions to higher education.

The award was given to Potts at the 2013 annual meeting of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACS/COC). The conference was held December 7–10, 2013, in Atlanta, Georgia.

Their prestigious award represents the recipient's long-term dedication to excellence in higher education and is considered the equivalent of a "Lifetime Achievement" award, as viewed by SACS/COC.

Dr. Wheelan, president of the accrediting Commission, said at the presentation: "The James T. Rogers Distinguished Leadership Award stands for visionary leadership and outstanding involvement in all areas of support and activities on the Commission of Colleges."

According to Wheelan, the award is the highest public recognition given by the Commission and is reserved for extraordinary, distinctive and effective leadership.

Potts was chosen as the recipient for the depth and breadth of his voluntary service to the Commission. Wheelan outlined the various ways Potts has served in nearly every capacity possible on behalf of the Commission.

Potts' many years of devoted service to SACS/COC included: Member for six years; Executive Council Member for three years; Committee on Compliance and Reports Member for three years; Appeals Committee Chair and Member; and Nominating Committee Member.

In accepting his award, Potts said this: "It has been my great privilege to serve SACS/COC with colleagues from institutions across the south.

"I am most grateful to those who commended me to the Commission for the award. Together we understand that distinctive and effective education for our students is best conceived and administered by those who labor within these institutions of higher learning.

"We strongly believe that the peer review process of SACS/COC is far superior to regulation and oversight by our federal government. I hold in very high esteem Dr. James Rogers and consider it an honor and privilege to receive an award that bears his name," Potts said.

The SACS/COC is the 11-state regional body for accreditation of degree-granting higher education institutions that award associate, baccalaureate, master's or doctoral degrees.

The region covers Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, North and South Carolina, Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee, Latin and Central America and Dubai.

Today, it has 804 member institutions of higher education in the region. Potts was nominated by his peers from a pool of candidates, which included faculty, staff and administrators from the region's member institutions.

In his closing remarks, Wheelan said of Potts: "The recipient of this year's award is a faithful leader and diligent worker in the cause of higher education. He is the President of Judson College -- Dr. David E. Potts."

Dr. Potts was appointed President of Judson College in Marion, Alabama, in 1990. His mission has been to provide academic and administrative leadership for this Christian liberal arts college for women.

Highlights of Potts' tenure include developing vision to make Judson the finest Christian college for women in America; achieving improvements in the College's general education curriculum; nurturing a student-centered culture; growing endowments; accomplishing capital campaigns for new construction and restoration; strengthening the relationship with the Alabama Baptist State Convention.

Potts received his PhD from the University of Alabama; he earned both his Bachelor's and Master's degrees from Samford University.

He is married to Nora Beth Bloodworth, and they have two children, Kristin Elizabeth and Shannon Louise.

************

A Conversation with O.S. Hawkins about W.A. Criswell*

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary) -- Following is part of a continuing series of interviews conducted by Midwestern Seminary President Jason K. Allen of various Southern Baptist and evangelical leaders. This is an interview of O.S. Hawkins, president of GuideStone Financial Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention and former pastor of First Baptist Church in Dallas.

ALLEN: Dr. Hawkins, it is a joy to welcome you to the campus of Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary today. You have already served us richly by preaching to our chapel community. Thank you so much for your friendship and for being here and ministering God's Word to us. It is a particular joy of mine to host you in the President's home—the Vivion Home, in the Spurgeon Room where we are surrounded by some of C. H. Spurgeon's books and artifacts. It is a special joy because I know of your appreciation for Spurgeon, and W. A. Criswell's appreciation for Spurgeon, who was a mentor to you. Criswell is one that our denomination looked to for decades for leadership, but has now been gone to be with the Lord for a little over 10 years.

Today in the conversation, I want to revisit W. A. Criswell. I feel a certain stewardship, as a seminary president, to make sure the young men we train for pastoral ministry—for the preaching task—not only know the great preachers of today, but they know the great preachers of yesterday. It is really impossible to think of twentieth-century Southern Baptist life, and even twentieth-century life within the broader Evangelical Movement without thinking of W. A. Criswell.

It is a joy to have you here. You knew him like few others did. Let me begin the conversation by asking you, how did you come to know W. A. Criswell in the first place?

HAWKINS: My pastor that led me to Christ and Dr. Criswell were good friends. They were life-long friends. I actually came to know him very personally when I was in my 30s and I was pastor of First Baptist Ft. Lauderdale. The church had seen some spiritual success and growth. He took me under his wing and he became like a father to me. We vacationed together in the summers, Susan and I did with Dr. and Mrs. Criswell. We spent time in Europe with them; we spent time in New York. They were into antiques, which we were not, but we always enjoyed spending one week a year with them. For many, many years he was like a father to me.

ALLEN: You had the opportunity to be one of his successors at First Baptist Dallas for about five years before going to your current post as president of GuideStone. Talk about Criswell, the preacher. There are many ways to think of him: Criswell the pastor; Criswell this Titanic figure, something of an institution in and of himself. But as I look at Criswell from a distance, I find it difficult to reduce him beyond the pulpit. That is, first and foremost, who he was. Talk about Criswell, the preacher.

HAWKINS: Sitting here, looking at this portrait of Spurgeon reminds me that he really had no real peer in his heyday. People today need to know that neither did Dr. Criswell—I am talking about in the prime of the ministry he received from the Lord. He was an unusual man. He was brilliant. He earned a Ph.D. from Southern when few people were doing that. I always thought if he had gone into politics, he would have definitely been a senator, probably president. If he had gone into law, he would have been a Supreme Court justice. If he had gone into business, he would have built a Fortune 500 company.

Fortunately, for us in the evangelical world, God called him into ministry. He was a preacher par excellence. He was a student of both of the languages. He could speak to you and talk to you on any subject, whether it be Greek mythology, history, anything. He had a brilliant mind, and yet, he preached a gospel that could be understood by everyone. Fortunately, he has left us a lot of books to remember this brilliance.

It seemed like every time, in Southern Baptist life at least, that there came a crisis moment, there would come a book from Dr. Criswell. I remember when the evolution issue became a big thing among some seminary professors in Southern Baptist life. Dr. Criswell wrote, Did Man Just Happen? When the Charismatic Movement began to take hold in Southern Baptist life, it was really charismania, and there came the book, The Holy Spirit in Today's World. Even foreseeing the battle for the Bible that the Southern Baptists went through in the late 70s and 80s, Dr. Criswell gave us, Why I Preach the Bible as Literally True.

His books, his writings, and today, like Abel, being dead, still speaks through www.wacriswell.com, which has over 4,000 of his sermons. Unlike Spurgeon—we are here in the Spurgeon library -- if we want to read Spurgeon, we can only do it linearly. We can only read what he wrote.

On www.wacriswell.com, there are 4,000 of his manuscript messages alongside his handwritten notes, alongside audio, and alongside video. We not only get to read what he said, but we can hear and watch the pathos in his voice—the passion in his life—as he delivered his messages.

In answer to your question, he really had no peer. He was very respectful of his predecessor. Dr. George W. Truett was a life figure. It is hard for preachers today to believe the significance and platform that Truett had. You go to Dallas today and there is Truett Hospital, a part of Baylor Hospital. There is Truett Elementary School. There are edifices all over the city of Dallas named after this preacher of First Baptist, George W. Truett. He pastored there for 47½ years.

Criswell also was a bit taken with Dr. J. Frank Norris, who also was a graduate of Southern and the pastor of First Baptist Fort Worth. Many people do not know, but it was the largest church in the world in the 20s and 30s. He ran multiple thousands of people, Morris did. He was a fire-branded Fundamentalist. They both morphed into Criswell. Criswell came in 1944 to succeed Dr. Truett, just months after Truett's death. He took the Fundamentalist, fire-brand passion and eschatology of Norris, coupled it with the statesmanship, polish, and being a builder of this instead of a tearer of things down that Truett had. He put both of them in a unique package that really changed evangelical thought in the world for those years.

ALLEN: When you think about that run First Baptist Dallas had, basically for a century it had two pastors: George W. Truett and W. A. Criswell. To think of a multi-decade long pastorate, nearly a half-century pastorate for Truett, and depending on when you actually peg Dr. Criswell's retirement date, perhaps even over a half-century.

HAWKINS: I say Truett was there 47½ and Criswell was there 50, but I am a little partial.

ALLEN: There you have it. Talk about what kept him in that pulpit week after week, year after year, decade after decade, being faithful and preaching away.

HAWKINS: Number one, the man was like Nathanael—he was without guile. It never entered his mind that anyone would have an evil thought toward him or anything else. He was the purest-minded man I have ever known. He was passionately in love with the Lord Jesus Christ, and he loved the Word of God. He gave his morning—all of them—to the study of the text in Greek and in Hebrew, both of which he was proficient in. So much of his preaching issued out of that.

What other people do not realize, though, is that he was not just a great preacher, though he was. I will speak in a moment about what I think is the hinge on Southern Baptist life in the twentieth century that he preached. People know him as a great preacher, but few know that he was an unbelievable pastor. He loved his people. He visited them. He wept with them. He cried with them. And they knew he loved them. One of the reasons he had such incredible unanimity and 100 percent following and support in the church for decades was because they knew that he loved them.

A lot of people remember him, as you said, as a preacher and a lot of people remember him as a theologian, writer, or builder—Criswell College is named after him. I remember him in his pajamas on Saturday nights over on Swiss Avenue at the parsonage when I would go back in the back door. He would be in his study, and I would go over what I was going to preach the next Sunday and before I left we would kneel there at that couch, and he would put his hands on me and pray for me. I remember visiting hospitals with him. I remember him holding the hands of people dying -- that he had pastored for decades -- and standing there with tears streaming down his cheeks singing, "I Feel Like Traveling Home." He was singing to people as they died, weeping. I remember him in restaurants. When we would get up to leave when we were finished eating, we would look around and he would be back thanking the busboy for serving him. He was a man of detail. He was a man who loved people, regardless of who they were or what walk of life they came from.

ALLEN: That is very encouraging to hear the way he so channeled his heart for ministry, even to the least of these. Circling back around to his pulpit ministry, I know John MacArthur, whom we had on campus here recently, has referenced the fact that when he went to Grace Community Church in 1969, Criswell was one of the very few models of exposition out there that he could look to. In some ways, you think of Criswell channeling different tributaries, whether it is the Conservative Movement and Resurgence in our denomination, or more broadly speaking of the church at large. He was championing and modeling expository preaching. Talk about that style of preaching that he practiced and his convictions about it.

HAWKINS: He was doing this in a time that few people were. He was doing this in a time where some people were writing series of sermon books called Simple Sermons (Herschel Ford). Not taking anything away from Dr. Ford, but Dr. Criswell was far more into the Word of God. As you know, one of his most famous sermons was preached on a New Year's Eve in Dallas, when he started preaching at 7 p.m. It became the book, The Scarlet Thread Through the Bible. He preached hours into the night, through the morning, tracing the scarlet thread from Genesis 1:1 to Revelation 22:21—all through the Word of God. He is known as a Bible preacher.

I suppose you would have to see the church from the inside to see the brilliance of this man because his genius was not only in the pulpit, though it was the strongest pulpit in twentieth-century America, in my opinion. His genius was also in organization and the way he led the church. For example, he was such a visionary. He changed Sunday school from what he would call a "vertical organization," to a "horizontal organization." First Baptist Dallas was the first Sunday school to age group itself on a horizontal level to reach more families. He caught onto family ministry before anybody else did. He built a building which had a bowling alley and gymnasium before any church ever had a gymnasium or bowling alley or anything to reach families.

Ironically, he was like Jesus in two particular ways. Jesus attracted women to him that served in ministry, and he attracted reprobates. Criswell did the same thing. He attracted both of those types of folks. God brought three women along that really built First Baptist Church along with W. A. Criswell. Minnie Slaughter Veal, whose father, Col. Slaughter, was the founder of Baylor Hospital, and many things in the early days in Dallas and he was a deacon at First Baptist. Minnie Slaughter Veal inherited much of his wealth, and to this day, the trust at First Baptist Dallas still funds choir mission trips and things like that.

There came a time when Dr. Criswell wanted to buy the First Christian Church, which became available across the street from the church to expand. The deacons voted him down, and he was sad about it. The next day, Ms. Veal called him -- I am going back into the late 40s, early 50s -- and she said, "Preacher, I hear you are sad," and he told her what had happened. Before long, there was a "For Sale" sign on the Christian Church property. Dr. Criswell told her that he had a dream of building a family center over there with bowling alleys, gymnasiums, a parking garage, and things to reach families. Before anyone knew it, there started a demolition on the church property. After it had been bought, it was demolished. Then, steel started coming up out of the ground, and all of the sudden a big building about 10 stories high went up. It was finished, and Ms. Veal went over and handed him the keys to the Veal Building. That is how some of the things took place in Dallas.

ALLEN: That is how you build a church.

HAWKINS: Then, Mary Crowley, who built a company called Home Interiors, was on Billy Graham's board for years, and she came to know the Lord there in the church. She was a great benefactor to all of the ministers of the church. Then, from the Hunt family was Ruth Hunt. Those three good, godly women had tremendous wealth and used it for the cause of Christ to help build the church.

ALLEN: That is a unique story and narrative for you to weave. Not only as rendering on history, but as one who has lived it himself as a pastor. There is a unique, providential confluence of a great man, uniquely gifted, incredibly devoted, personally sacrificial, in a city that is dynamic and growing within a broader region of resources, with different strong personalities and people with resources in the church. One, plus one, plus one, plus one, equals 10. These things come together in a unique way to expand the kingdom. As far as Dr. Criswell goes, it is hard to have a conversation about him without people sharing stories about some of his eccentricities. It is not uncommon for a uniquely gifted person and a great leader to have his own eccentricities, whether it is Winston Churchill, Ronald Reagan, or in the church realm, W. A. Criswell. Share some of the stories about Criswell which demonstrate his personal eccentricities.

HAWKINS: He definitely had them. I shared thousands of meals with him over 25 years. Then, when I was pastor, we would eat some meal together every day. I do not think I ever ate a meal with Dr. Criswell that he did not eat off of my plate, or anyone else's plate that was there. What he would do is he would stare at your plate for a minute, and you knew he was coming. One Christmas, Susie gave him a fork that had a long extension on it. That was one of his more strange mannerisms. He had a lot of things like that. He did not eat chicken because when he was growing up, he ate so much chicken that he no longer could.

I think one of the most interesting vignettes is what happened shortly after he came to Dallas in 1944. There are three things that symbolized Dr. Criswell: his name was synonymous with the Bible, his books, and the blessed hope. He was a premillennialist. He loved eschatology until his dying day. He lived believing in the blessed hope. Truett did not preach expositionally. He had a great voice which carried him. He never gestured. He stood in the pulpit, read the text, and preached his sermon as a great, stately man. His voice and his presence carried the room. Criswell was running from one end of the platform to the other. He was expository, passionate, and fiery. He was a premillennialist and Truett was not.

Criswell had been there about a year, and he decided that they needed to change the Articles of Faith of the church. He wrote into the Articles of Faith a strong eschatological statement that related to premillennialism. When it was brought before the deacons, more than one of the deacons had concerns about Truett not believing that—you have to understand, in those days Truett was greatly revered. One of the deacons stood up and said, "Dr. Criswell, the great George W. Truett pastored 47½ years in this church, and he could not sign those Articles of Faith. Criswell looked at him, smiled, and said, "You are correct, he couldn't, but he could now and he would now." He had a winsome way about defusing circumstances and situations that went along like that.

If I had to pick one verse that I think epitomizes Criswell, it would be 2 Kings 23:25. It is said of the good king Josiah that before him there was not a king like him who loved the Lord with all of his heart, and after him did not arise one like him. To me, that is W. A. Criswell. I do not know of anyone before him who really had the complete package, who loved God, was so greatly used, was dynamic, and was such a brilliant theological mind and passionate evangelical heart. He went all over the world every summer on a mission trip for a month. He had a plane crash in the jungles of South America one time. He went to the out-of-the-way places to preach the gospel to hidden tribes. He loved lost people. He was brilliant in mind, he was passionate in heart, and he was benevolent in hand. There are hundreds of ministries that became Christ's hand extended to those in the city of Dallas and far beyond it who had nothing and needed something.

ALLEN: That is an appropriate place to wind down the conversation. You have spoken so insightfully into the man, and into the ministry. What a fitting person for us to remember and consider. Dr. Hawkins, would you like to tie up the conversation?

HAWKINS: I would just tie it up by saying this -- all of us have read Oswald Chambers' My Utmost for His Highest, that great devotional book. In there, Oswald Chambers says that giants dwindle into ordinary men when you really get to know them. I would say that Oswald Chambers never met W. A. Criswell.

ALLEN: Wow. What a fitting way to end. You knew him well, and you can bear testimony to that assessment perhaps like few others. Thank you for your time. Thank you for the conversation. It is a joy to host you on campus, and a joy to reflect and celebrate the life and legacy of W. A. Criswell.
*Recorded in the Spurgeon Room on November 20, 2013
- See more at: http://jasonkallen.com/2013/12/a-conversation-with-o-s-hawkins-about-w-a-criswell/?utm_source=Jason%20Allen%20Blog&utm_campaign=436fcfd39e-Jason_Allen_Blog_May_31&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_3d58754d34-436fcfd39e-216933661#sthash.d5fgJ9gb.dpuf

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World News Service 2013 Timeline
By Kristin Chapman

ASHEVILLE, N.C. (World News Service) -- Key events from 2013 (as of Dec. 11) compiled by WORLD Magazine follow:

JANUARY

Jan. 1: Congress approves a fiscal cliff deal, with President Obama signing the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 into law the next day.

Jan. 4: The Church of England says gay priests in civil partnerships can become bishops if they remain celibate.

Jan. 8: An Open Doors report states that during 2012, Christians in North Korea suffered the most persecution in the world for the 11th straight year.

Jan. 14: Lance Armstrong, during an Oprah Winfrey interview, admits to doping.

Jan. 15: Two explosions rock a university in Aleppo, Syria, killing more than 80 students.

Jan. 16: Al Qaeda–linked terrorists attack and take control of a natural gas field in southern Algeria. At least 37 civilians die during the four-day siege.

Jan. 20: President Obama takes the oath of office for his second term.

Jan. 24: North Korea warns it will conduct a third nuclear test and aim more rocket launches at the United States.

Jan. 24: The U.S. military lifts its ban on women serving in front-line combat.

FEBRUARY

Feb. 1: The Dow closes above 14,000 for the first time since October 2007.

Feb. 8: Terrorists (probably Boko Haram) murder nine female polio vaccinators at health centers in northern Nigeria.

Feb 8: Officials from Christian World Adoption say the agency is closing immediately. Another agency, Adoption ARK, also closes in February.

Feb. 10: The arrest of four Christian foreigners for proselytizing in Benghazi marks the beginning of another wave of oppression and violence against Christians in Libya.

Feb. 12: North Korea conducts a third nuclear test.

Feb. 15: A meteorite explodes over Russia, raining down fireballs and causing a shock wave that damages buildings and injures more than 1,000 people.

Feb. 21: A massive car bomb explodes in Damascus, killing dozens of people. Three more attacks make this one of the deadliest days of the Syrian civil war.

Feb. 24: Argo wins the best picture award at the Oscars.

Feb. 28: Pope Benedict XVI resigns, marking the first time a pope has resigned since Gregory XII in 1415.

MARCH

March 6: Arkansas lawmakers, overriding Gov. Mike Beebe's veto, pass a law prohibiting most abortions after 12 weeks' gestation. (A judge later issues an injunction against the law.) A federal judge rules Idaho's fetal pain law unconstitutional.

March 7: The UN approves new sanctions against North Korea, which once again threatens to attack the United States.

March 8: A mob sets fire to the Christian community of Joseph Colony in Lahore, Pakistan, burning 100 homes and forcing residents to flee.

March 11: A state judge blocks New York City from instituting a ban on selling large sugary drinks.

March 13: The papal conclave elects Argentina's Jorge Bergoglio as the new pope. Pope Francis is the first Latin American pope.

March 15: A federal judge strikes down portions of a Missouri law that give employers and employees with religious objections exemptions from Obamacare's contraceptive mandate.

March 20-22: President Obama makes his first presidential visit to Israel.

March 22: North Dakota lawmakers become the first in the nation to approve a personhood amendment. The state's voters will have their say in November 2014.

March 26: North Dakota Gov. Jack Dalrymple signs into law a measure that bans abortions once a fetal heartbeat is "detectable." (A judge later delays the law from taking effect.)

APRIL

April 10: Uruguay approves a bill allowing same-sex marriage.

April 15: Two pressure-cooker bombs explode near the finish line during the Boston Marathon, killing three and injuring more than 170. A massive manhunt over the following four days ends with one bomber, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, dying in a police shootout and his younger brother, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, captured after a city-wide lockdown.

April 17: A proposal for increased gun control fails in the U.S. Senate.

April 24: An eight-story garment factory in Bangladesh collapses, killing more than 1,000.

April 25: The White House issues a letter concluding that the Syrian government has used chemical weapons at least twice during the nation's civil war.

April 29: ESPN sports analyst Chris Broussard draws the ire of liberals over comments he makes regarding Jason Collins' announcement that he's a gay Christian.

MAY

May 2: North Korea sentences American missionary Kenneth Bae to 15 years of hard labor.

May 2: Rhode Island legalizes same-sex marriage.

May 5: Terrorists in Tanzania set off an explosion in a church, killing two people and injuring 60.

May 7: Delaware legalizes same-sex marriage.

May 8: Whistleblower Gregory Hicks, former deputy chief of mission in Libya, tells a House committee there was never any doubt that the 2012 Benghazi attack was a terrorist act, and that all available military resources were not sent to assist the besieged consulate.

May 12: Lawmakers call for an investigation into the IRS after learning the agency flagged groups with "tea party" or "patriot" in their names for special review. The scandal extends to include other conservative groups.

May 13: After 10 days of deliberation, a jury finds Philadelphia abortionist Kermit Gosnell guilty of murder. His sentence: life in prison.

May 13: The Associated Press reveals that the Department of Justice secretly obtained two months' worth of AP reporters' and editors' telephone records.

May 14: The Romeikes, a German homeschooling family, lose their appeal for asylum in the United States.

May 14: Minnesota legalizes same-sex marriage.

May 15: In a study published in Nature, Oregon Health and Science University researchers describe the first creation of human embryonic stem cells by cloning.

May 23: Delegates at the Boy Scouts of America's national meeting pass a resolution to allow homosexual boys to participate, although homosexual adults are banned from leadership.

May 25-26: Terrorists burn three Nigerian churches and vandalize a clinic in Borno state.

May 30: Nigeria passes a law outlawing same-sex marriage.

JUNE

June 6: The Obama administration acknowledges an NSA program that tracks the telephone records of Americans.

June 17: The Supreme Court strikes down an Arizona law requiring proof of citizenship when registering to vote in federal elections.

June 19: Exodus International announces it will close after nearly 40 years of operation.

June 25: Gun manufacturer Smith & Wesson, reporting record sales for its fourth quarter and full fiscal year, says it can't meet demand.

June 26: The Supreme Court rules part of the federal Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional.

June 28: A lightning strike near Yarnell, Ariz., starts a fire that kills 19 firefighters and destroys 200 homes.

June 30: Ohio Gov. John Kasich signs into law a bill eliminating state funding for Planned Parenthood and requiring abortion providers to perform ultrasounds on women seeking abortions.

June 30: Russian President Vladimir Putin signs a law banning the "propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations."

JULY

July 2: The Obama administration says it will postpone until January 2015 the requirement that companies with more than 50 employees provide health insurance to workers.

July 3: The Egyptian military removes President Mohamed Morsi from power.

July 3: The North Carolina Senate bans taxpayer funding for abortion centers.

July 13: A jury finds George Zimmerman not guilty in the death of Trayvon Martin.

July 17: Great Britain legalizes same-sex marriage.

July 18: Texas Gov. Rick Perry signs a bill banning abortions after 20 weeks.

July 18: The city of Detroit files for Chapter 9 bankruptcy protection.

July 19: A district judge grants Hobby Lobby a preliminary injunction against the Obamacare contraceptive mandate.

July 22: Al-Qaeda militants storm Abu Ghraib Prison, freeing 500-600 prisoners, including top al-Qaeda operatives.

July 23: While running for mayor of New York City, Anthony Weiner admits he continued sexting after resigning in disgrace from Congress.

July 27: Egyptians endure one of their deadliest days of upheaval since the 2011 revolution as clashes between security forces and supporters of ousted President Mohamed Morsi leave at least 72 people dead.

July 30: A judge convicts Army Pfc. Bradley Manning of espionage and theft for leaking state secrets. Shortly after, Manning announces he wants to live as a woman.

AUGUST

Aug. 1: Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe claims victory in a controversial presidential election.

Aug. 4: The United States raises the terrorism threat level and closes embassies and consulates.

Aug. 14: The California Supreme Court rejects an appeal by Proposition 8 supporters to revive the 2008 measure, thereby ending the final legal challenge to same-sex marriage in the state.

Aug. 15: The death toll soars above 600 after Egyptian security forces, armored vehicles, and bulldozers raze two encampments where Mohamed Morsi supporters were protesting his removal from power.

Aug. 18: For the first time in 1,600 years, priests do not hold Sunday Mass in the Virgin Mary and Priest Ibram monastery near Minya, Egypt. Muslim Brotherhood supporters torched it.

Aug. 19: New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie signs legislation banning gay conversion therapy for minors.

Aug. 21: A chemical attack in Syria leaves thousands of people dead.

Aug. 22: The New Mexico Supreme Court rules against Christian photographer Elaine Huguenin, who declined to photograph a lesbian commitment ceremony.

Aug. 25: Miley Cyrus gives an obscene dance performance at the Video Music Awards, and two weeks later her new video, "Wrecking Ball," breaks the record for the greatest number of views—19.3 million—in a single day.

Aug. 29: The IRS says it will treat same-sex couples with marriage licenses as married for tax purposes.

Aug. 29: A California court upholds the state's ban on reparative therapy for minors.

SEPTEMBER

Sept 2: Fox Sports abruptly fires broadcaster Craig James, who had opposed same-sex marriage when running for the U.S. Senate in 2012.

Sept. 4: The Obama administration says the Department of Veterans Affairs will begin providing spousal benefits to same-sex couples.

Sept. 12: NASA says Voyager-1 has become the first man-made object to leave the solar system.

Sept. 16: Gunman Aaron Alexis kills 12 people at the Washington Navy Yard.

Sept. 19: A judge sentences Floyd Corkins II to 25 years in prison for an attempted mass shooting last year at the Family Research Council.

Sept. 22: As Islamic militants continue a four-day massacre at the upscale Westgate Mall in Nairobi, Kenya, that ends with 72 people dead, two suicide bombers kill more than 80 and injure nearly 150 as worshippers leave services at All Saints Church in Peshawar, Pakistan.

Sept. 26: Boko Haram militants strike villages in Gwoza, Nigeria, burning two churches and killing a pastor. Three days later they attack an agricultural college, killing nearly 80 people.

Sept. 27: Barack Obama asks Iranian President Hassan Rouhani to release Iranian-American pastor Saeed Abedini and American Amir Hekmati.

OCTOBER

Oct. 1: A partial government shutdown begins after Congress fails to reach a spending agreement.

Oct. 1: The U.S. government launches Obamacare, which quickly experiences technical difficulties.

Oct. 4: One of the worst blizzards in South Dakota's history blasts through the region.

Oct. 13: Thousands of veterans and their supporters converge on national monuments across Washington to protest federal officials closing the sites during the government shutdown.

Oct. 17: The government shutdown ends after Congress approves a bipartisan deal.

Oct. 21: New Jersey legalizes same-sex marriage.

Oct. 23: German Chancellor Angela Merkel calls Barack Obama after learning the National Security Agency tapped her phone. Further investigation reveals the NSA spied on other world leaders.

Oct. 24: A Nigerian army offensive kills 74 Boko Haram militants.

NOVEMBER

Nov. 3: North Korean leader Kim Jong-un orders the public executions of 80 people for minor offenses such as possessing Bibles.

Nov. 4: Iranian officials transfer American Iranian pastor Saeed Abedini to the violent Rajai Shahr prison.

Nov. 8: Typhoon Haiyan strikes the Philippines, flattening entire towns and leaving at least 5,500 dead.

Nov. 13: The United States formally declares Nigerian militant groups Boko Haram and Ansaru "terrorists."

Nov. 15: China announces that couples will now be allowed two children if one parent is an only child, and says it will also abolish its labor camp system.

Nov. 19: The U.S. Supreme Court votes 5-4 to allow Texas' new abortion restrictions to stand while litigation continues in the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals.

Nov. 26: The U.S. Supreme Court agrees to hear a challenge to Obamacare's contraceptive mandate.

DECEMBER

Dec. 1: A New York commuter train derails, killing four.

Dec. 7: North Korea releases American tourist Merrill Newman after detaining him since October.

Dec. 8: At least 400,000 Ukrainians protest in Kiev against their government's surrender to Russian pressure to back away from European involvement.

Dec. 10: Bipartisan negotiators from the House and Senate reach a two-year fiscal deal that, if passed, will avert a January government shutdown.

Dec. 11: India's Supreme Court upholds a law, previously overturned by a lower court, that makes homosexual activity illegal.
--30--
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