SABBATICAL: Theologian John Piper announced March 28 that he will take an eight-month leave of absence from the pulpit and his ministry starting May 1. Piper, 64, explained the reasons for the sabbatical in a blog post: "I asked the elders to consider this leave because of a growing sense that my soul, my marriage, my family, and my ministry-pattern need a reality check from the Holy Spirit." During the break, Piper will cease book writing, blogging, and speaking engagements-with an exception for the Desiring God National Conference and three international commitments.
RESURFACED: More than a year after Chinese authorities seized Gao Zhisheng, the Christian human-rights lawyer has alerted family, friends, and reporters that he is alive and currently staying at a Buddhist retreat in northern China. Gao, who faced detention and torture in 2007 for "inciting subversion," is believed to be under heavy police surveillance. He told the Associated Press he hopes to be reunited soon with his wife and children, who defected to the United States early last year.
ACCUSED: A retired Presbyterian minister again faces charges she violated church law by performing same-sex wedding ceremonies. Jane Spahr was acquitted of similar charges two years ago after the highest court of the Presbyterian Church (USA) ruled the marriages were not "real" because at the time they were not legal under California law. Spahr now faces church charges for officiating at same-sex marriages during the months in 2008 when they were legal. A trial date is pending.
APPOINTED: Archbishop Nicholas Okoh became the fourth primate of the Church of Nigeria-at 20 million members now the largest in the worldwide Anglican communion-on March 25. Nigeria faces religious tension over the massacre last month of 500 mostly Christians in the town of Jos, and his predecessor, retiring Archbishop Peter Akinola, counseled him, "If you procrastinate, you will fail."
REVERSAL: Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, the Texas Republican who vowed to resign her seat whether she won or lost her bid for governor, decided to serve out the remaining two years of her Senate term just a month after Gov. Rick Perry defeated her in the Texas primary race. Hutchison, 66, said the recent passage of sweeping healthcare legislation made it clear to her "that the stakes in our nation's capital have never been higher."
INCARCERATED: Authorities transferred Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, who faces 13 counts of premeditated murder and 32 of attempted premeditated murder in the Fort Hood massacre, from Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio to the Belton County Jail to await a June 1 hearing at Fort Hood. Hasan received a "discharge physical" but was paralyzed from the chest down after police at Fort Hood shot him to bring an end to the shooting rampage last November.