President Barack Obama awarded the Medal of Honor to a Korean War Army chaplain who tended to wounded soldiers in the midst of intense enemy fire and hand-to-hand combat. Emil Kapaun, a Catholic priest, was 35 when he died in 1951 as a prisoner of war. Obama awarded him the military’s highest honor at an April 11 ceremony at the White House, which was attended by some of Kapaun’s family and former prisoners of war.
A South African hospital discharged former President Nelson Mandela, 94, on April 6 after a bout with pneumonia. Mandela, who spent 27 years in prison for opposing apartheid, was hospitalized for 10 days so doctors could drain fluid from his lungs. Mandela made his last public appearance at the 2010 World Cup but remains a beloved national figure in South Africa.
George Beverly Shea, 104, a Grammy Award–winning singer and long-time associate of Billy Graham, died on April 16. As a soloist for the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, Shea for over 50 years sang prior to Graham’s preaching at Crusades. Shea also recorded more than 70 albums and was a member of the Gospel Music Hall of Fame and Religious Broadcasting Hall of Fame.
Barbara Willke, a long-time champion of the pro-life cause, died April 14 at age 90. Willke and her husband, Dr. John C. Willke—a past president of National Right to Life—were pioneers of the pro-life movement dating back to the 1960s. The couple produced 12 books on abortion and human sexuality and co-founded Cincinnati Right to Life.
Nobel Prize winner Robert Edwards, 87, known as the “father of in vitro fertilization” (IVF) died April 10 after a lengthy illness. Edwards, a University of Cambridge professor, worked with the late gynecologist Patrick Steptoe to help a woman give birth using IVF in 1978—the world’s first “test tube baby.” The technique has enabled millions of births but remains controversial.
Uhuru Kenyatta, 51, became the youngest president in Kenya’s history when he was peacefully sworn in on April 9. Kenyatta, the son of former Kenyan President Jomo Kenyatta, last month narrowly won a contested election that was decided by Kenya’s Supreme Court. Raila Odinga, the losing candidate, publicly accepted the court’s decision and avoided the bloody chaos that followed his 2007 presidential loss.
Richard Land will replace Robert Westra as president of Southern Evangelical Seminary in Charlotte, N.C., effective July 1. Land spent almost 25 years as president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission and is scheduled to retire in October. Land, who served five terms with the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, will manage the seminary and teach classes starting in the summer term.