DIED: R. Laird Harris, a translator of the New International Version Bible and a founding faculty member of Covenant Theological Seminary in St. Louis, died April 25 at the age of 97. Harris, who in 1932 left his studies in chemical engineering to pursue a theology degree at Westminster Theological Seminary, was also a founder of the former Bible Presbyterian Church that later joined the Presbyterian Church in America. Harris "demonstrated that brilliant thought and simple faith were not contradictory," said Covenant Seminary President Bryan Chapell.
"His humble and fun-loving heart was a great gift to the two generations of church leaders he helped to train."
RENOUNCED: Theologian J.I. Packer announced his departure from the Anglican Church of Canada due to "poisonous liberalism" within the church body. The 81-year-old said he could no longer serve under Vancouver-area Bishop Michael Ingham because he "appears heretical." Packer and 10 other B.C. Anglican clergy will serve under Bishop Gregory Venables from the more conservative Province of the Southern Cone in South America.
SUICIDE: "D.C. Madam" Deborah Jeane Palfrey, 52, was found dead May 1 of an apparent suicide just weeks after she was found guilty of money laundering, racketeering, and mail fraud in connection with her high-end escort service. Palfrey, facing a likely prison term, wrote in a suicide note to her mother that she could not "live the next 6-8 years behind bars for what both you and I have come to regard as this 'modern day lynching,' only to come out of prison in my late 50s a broken, penniless, and very much alone woman."
PERSECUTED: A Jordanian man on trial for converting from Islam to Christianity could have his marriage annulled and lose custody of his two children if he is found guilty of apostasy. Mohammad Abbad, 40, fled Jordan to an undisclosed nearby country after Muslims attacked him and his 10-year-old son.
DIED: A 22-year-old Marine, who suffered extensive burn injuries while serving in Iraq and later started a charity to help burned children, died April 11 of complications from surgery. Memorial Day services will commemorate Sgt. Merlin German, who was burned on more than 95 percent of his body when his Humvee hit a roadside bomb in 2005. After nine months in intensive care and more than 100 surgeries, he returned home and founded Merlin's Miracles. "He beat all odds and then on top of that continued to serve as an inspiration and motivator for others," said German's doctor, critical-care surgeon Evan Renz. "It is very difficult to describe the sense of loss."