Thoughts, insights and observations from the ABN staff


Out with the old! It's closet cleaning time at the Arkansas Baptist News!

ABN staffers Jeanie Weber (left) and Jessica Vanderpool sort through materials removed from the Arkansas Baptist News storage closet. Below are some of the items.


World News Service 2013 Timeline

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:


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. 


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 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 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 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 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 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. 


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. 


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. 


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. 


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. 


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.


Happy New Year! Here are stories we are working on for the January 9 edition

Stories to be included in our first edition of the year (Jan. 9):

2013 top 10 stories chosen by Arkansas Baptist News staff – THE YEAR of our Lord 2013 was full of significant events. For Arkansas Baptists, many were exciting, others disappointing and some tragic. 

Little Rock couple request trial date in Glorieta suit – ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – Kirk and Susie Tompkins of Little Rock have asked a judge to set a trial date in what has turned into a land ownership dispute over the sale of property in and around Glorieta Conference Center. 

New Orleans professor says resolve church conflict ‘early’ – NEW ORLEANS, La. – Conflict has many facets. Many different obstacles can generate friction in the local church. One of the major keys to resolving church conflict is to get to it early, says professor of leadership and pastoral ministry at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, Reggie Ogea.

Other stories to be included in the edition are: 

– Arkansas Renewal Project hosts Arkansas pastors

– Arkansas judge orders trial in same-sex lawsuit

– And many more you don’t want to miss!


Arkansas Baptists called to action following devastating typhoon in Philippines

The Arkansas Baptist State Convention missions ministries team encouraged Arkansas Baptists Nov. 13 to assist people of the Philippines in the aftermath of the historic storm.

“We have been in direct contact with IMB (International Mission Board) missionaries on the scene. We have told them about the Philippines relief fund that we have started, and are standing by to recruit teams for them as needed,” reads a statement posted on the missions ministries team blog. “It will be some time before they can assess the situation and formulate a plan, especially due to the chaos still taking place.”

“If you wish to donate to the fund, 100 percent of which will go directly into the hands of IMB missionaries on the field, you can do so using the Donate Now link found on our homepage: 

“Or, you can send a check made payable to the Arkansas Baptist State Convention, (with Philippines Relief in the memo line) to 10 Remington Drive, Little Rock, AR  72204.”


5-years ago today: Gunman kills Democratic Party chairman, threatens ABSC staffer 

From the archives of the Arkansas Baptist News:

LITTLE ROCK – A gunman shot Arkansas Democratic Party Chairman Bill Gwatney three times at the State Democratic Party Headquarters in Little Rock at about 11:50 a.m. Aug. 13. Gwatney later died in a local hospital.

Fleeing the scene, the suspect went to the Arkansas Baptist State Convention (ABSC) building just a few blocks east of Democratic Headquarters.

“A middle-aged white man in a white shirt entered our building at 525 W. Capitol with a gun,” Dan Jordan, ABSC business manager, told news media. “The operator recognized immediately there was a threat. We have a process in place where she called the building manager immediately to respond.”

The gunman ran up the stairwell to the second floor of the Baptist building, according to Jordan. When Kirby Martin, ABSC building manager, confronted him, the man cocked the gun and pointed it at Martin.

Martin was able to flee the threat, but a few minutes later found the man again and asked him what was wrong. The man said he had lost his job.

The gunman and Martin took the elevator down to the first floor and the gunman left through the front door of the building.

“He left with a gun stuck in behind his back belt,” Jordan said.

The building operator had called the police, who arrived soon after the man left the building. The gunman jumped into a blue pickup truck on Arch St., across from the side entrance of the building, and sped away. Jordan said the police were in hot pursuit of him as soon as he drove off.

The man did not fire a shot while in the Baptist building.

The police chase ended in gunfire near Sheridan, south of Little Rock, during which the suspect was shot and killed. The gunman later was identified as Timothy Dale Johnson, 50, of Searcy. News reports indicated he had been fired from his job at a Target store in Conway.

Gwatney, 48, was transported to a local hospital, where he died just before 4 p.m.

News reports indicated Johnson walked into the state Democratic headquarters and fired three shots into Gwatney’s chest.

“The details and stories will be told for days to come through the local and national media, but the greater story involves the emotional and spiritual needs of those directly affected by these events,” said Emil Turner, ABSC executive director. “Their lives will be marked by painful memories and unresolved questions.”

Turner urged prayer for the Gwatney family and Johnson’s family.