Today's BP Ledger includes items from:
Compass Direct News
Salafist Leaders Celebrate Death of Coptic Pope in Egypt
CAIRO, Egypt (Compass Direct News)--As Christians across Egypt continued to mourn the March 17 death of Pope Shenouda III, Islamist leaders of Egypt's Salafist movement issued a litany of insults, calling the late leader of the Coptic Orthodox Church the "head of the infidels" and thanking God for his death.
The vitriol indicated the level of hostility the Salafists, who now make up 20 percent of Egypt's parliament, have toward Christians. In a recorded message released on the Facebook page of one leading Salafi teacher, Sheik Wagdy Ghoneim, the sheik celebrated the pontiff's death.
"We rejoice that he is destroyed. He has perished," Ghoneim said on March 18, the day after Shenouda died at the age of 88. "May God have His revenge on him in the fire of hell -- he and all who walk his path."
After the cleric issued his statement, several others followed suit, releasing insults throughout the week. On Monday (March 19) in the lower house of Egypt's parliament, the People's Assembly, several Salafi members refused to stand in remembrance of Shenouda during an official moment of silence. Others left before the moment of silence took place.
Bishop Mouneer Anis, head of the Episcopal and Anglican Diocese of Egypt, North Africa and the Horn of Africa, said that insulting people after their death is considered one of the rudest things someone can do in the Middle East. Anis, a close friend of the pontiff, told Compass Direct News the comments and actions were "very sad."
"I see this as being moved by hatred," Anis said. "To be honest, I feel sorry for members of the Salafi -- to criticize such a remarkable man."
The provocative comments are not a good sign for Egypt's Christians. Adherents of the Salafist movement, which obtained that one-fifth of the People's Assembly through the Nour Party, have led most of the recent attacks against Christians in Egypt. The comments were thought to reveal the utter disdain the Salafists have toward Egypt's Christian minority.
The Salafist movement claims it patterns its beliefs and practices on the first three generations of Muslims.
Shenouda, formerly know as Nazeer Gayed Roufail, died due to complications from kidney disease and other health issues. A former theology teacher, Shenouda was enthroned on Nov. 14, 1971, as the 117th Pope of Alexandria and head of the Coptic Orthodox Church.
He led the church through some of its most challenging times, often coming into conflict with the government. In 1981, he criticized then-President Anwar Sadat for what Shenouda characterized as an inadequate response to the rise of what is now called "political Islam" in Egypt. For this and the Coptic protests against Sadat that followed, Sadat banished Shenouda to a monastery in the desert.
Shenouda was released three years later, after Islamic militants assassinated Sadat, and after his successor, Hosni Mubarak, granted the pope amnesty. Last year, Mubarak was deposed after a series of pro-democracy protests roiled the country.
Shenouda's passing leaves many questions unanswered as to how the leaders of the Coptic Orthodox Church will direct its followers to deal with the persecution leveled against them. Mubarak's removal from power brought heretofore unfulfilled promises of change by the transitional military-run government, but it has also unleashed a tide of violence against Copts unheard of in recent history.
In his statement, Ghoneim made a long list of accusations against Shenouda that, put together, portray the former pope as waging a war against Muslims in Egypt. The accusations were considered either twisted by lack of context or were blatantly false, such as the claim that Shenouda was holding two female Coptic converts to Islam against their will in a monastery. Ghoneim characterized Shenouda's well-known desire to see Egyptian society protect the human rights of Christians as impudence.
Most surprising was the claim that the former pope was somehow orchestrating the religiously motivated violence against Christians in Egypt.
"He wanted the sectarian strife," Ghoneim said. "He wanted to burn Egypt."
The irony of the comments has not been lost on most Copts. In May, Salafist leaders publicly threatened to kill Shenouda over the rumors about hiding the two women against their will. This was after groups of Muslims, led by members of the Salafist movement, held massive protests in April and blocked railroads and roadways because the transitional military government appointed a Copt to be governor over the province. The rioting stopped only after the appointment was withdrawn.
Though it all, Anis said, Shenouda remained ardent in trying to engage Muslims in a peaceful way.
"He was a friend of many Muslim leaders. He was a peacemaker," Anis said. "He was even criticized by Christians for making peace with those who persecuted the church."
The last public meeting Shenouda had was with members of the Muslim Brotherhood, a little more than a week before he died.
"Pope Shenouda met members of the Muslim Brotherhood even when he was in pain," Anis said.
Most Muslims in Egypt did not share Ghoneim's sentiments. The leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, the largest Islamic group in the country, issued a statement expressing his condolences over the Coptic pope's death.
Shenouda was buried March 20 in the Monastery of St. Bishoy in Wadi el-Natrun, with several thousand followers attending. Before Shenouda was buried, Naguib Ghobrial, lawyer and head of the Egyptian Union for Human Rights, filed suit on March 19 against Ghoneim for contempt of a revealed religion.
Undeterred, Ghoneim released a statement the next day denying any wrongdoing and issued a challenge to all Christians.
"You believe in your Bible and say its words are holy," he concluded. " 'Love your enemies and bless all who curse you.' Your enemies -- you love them and those who curse you -- you bless them. So I say, God curse you! Bless me now. Bless me. Isn't this your religion? I am going to say it again -- I am your enemy, and I say, God curse you. Now, say it, 'We love you Wagdy. And God bless you Wagdy.'"
Rhonda McCroskey: Earning Her Bluefield College Degree Against All Odds
BLUEFIELD, Virginia (Bluefield College)--Bluefield College inSPIRE degree completion students often testify to the extreme challenge of balancing school with work and family. The sacrifices, they say, are significant, and the odds are sometimes overwhelming, but they persevere, they keep the faith, and they overcome. The result: the fulfillment of a lifelong dream of earning a college degree and the opportunity to advance in a professional career. That's just the inSPIRE way.
But then, there's Rhonda McCroskey, a Bluefield College degree completion student in management from Narrows, Virginia. In the midst of her studies, she has encountered more than your typical challenges. While balancing school, work and family, she's been asked to juggle more daunting tasks, but she's persevered, she's kept the faith, and she's overcome. The result: life!
In the midst of studying business ethics, analyzing research methods, and examining contemporary issues in pursuit of her bachelor's degree in management and leadership, McCroskey was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, a cancer of the body's lymph nodes and other organs of the immune system.
McCroskey began BC's inSPIRE degree completion program in 2009 -- February 2, in fact, her 40th birthday. She did so knowing she'd need to balance her studies with full time work as the assistant to the director of the School of Communication at Radford (VA) University, not to mention her responsibilities as a wife to husband, Jimmy, and a mother to then 13-year-old daughter, Camry.
And, she did well, earning a promotion at work, coaching her daughter's volleyball team, and successfully completing her assignments and classes at BC. In fact, McCroskey was set to graduate from the college with her bachelor's degree in management and leadership in the spring of 2010 -- that is, until she was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.
"My faith is what sustained me," said McCroskey about having to set her degree aside to battle cancer instead. "It allowed me to look at things through spiritual eyes and know that no matter what, I will be okay. If God chooses to heal me through whatever means -- divinely or through medicine -- and I stay here with my family, I will be thankful and take full advantage of our time together. But, if He chooses to take me home, then as a Christian, I cannot be sad, because that's what every Christian lives for, to one day make it to Heaven."
Just months shy of graduation in January 2010, McCroskey put her dream of earning a bachelor's degree on hold for chemotherapy that would last nearly a year, followed by 27 radiation treatments over an additional six weeks. That alone is heart wrenching, but consider the fact that this time is McCroskey's fourth time being diagnosed with cancer. She was diagnosed with malignant melanoma in 1997, non-Hodgkin's lymphoma (NHL) for the first time in 2004, and NHL for the second time in 2007. Despite months of chemotherapy, total body irradiation, and a stem cell transplant, the cancer returned for a fourth time in 2010.
"There is only one word to describe how I have endured, how I have continually endured each time -- God," said McCroskey. "God's grace and mercy have allowed me to stay focused on the task at hand no matter what it has been. He has given me the strength and the inner peace that passes all understanding to persevere and keep striving toward the goal of completing this program. His blessings continually flow in my life because of my willingness to submit to His will. So, I go through each day not focusing on the fact that I have cancer, but on God and His purpose for my life."
McCroskey said the flexibility of the inSPIRE program has helped her manage and continue her studies. The addition of online courses, she added, worked well within her work, family and treatment schedules, which included labs twice a week, occasional transfusions, and trips of more than 60 miles from the hospital to work.
"Not only do I have a full-time job, but I also have a part-time job and a part-time business," McCroskey said. "I am also very involved in my church and coached my daughter's recreation league volleyball team. Knowing that I could complete assignments at my own pace made the challenge of getting everything accomplished as a student and a working adult much easier."
Beyond the flexibility, McCroskey said she's been grateful for the professors in the inSPIRE program, who have been more than instructors to her in recent months. Her relationships with them, she said, have extended far beyond the classroom.
"The instructors have encouraged me to continue and to finish my degree," she said. "Many have been willing to pray for me and to add me to prayer lists. As a Christian, but especially as a student whom they had not known very long, that was very humbling and greatly appreciated."
With just 18 academic hours or six classes left to complete her bachelor's degree, McCroskey said she can again see the light at the end of the tunnel. But, whether she reaches that goal or not, she's confident she will have achieved all that God intended and that even greater goals and dreams have been fulfilled than she ever imagined.
"Because of my health situation, completing my bachelor's degree has become less about me and more about my testimony and witness to my daughter," said McCroskey. "She has seen first-hand that no matter what obstacles life throws at us, if we are willing to trust in God and not give up, we can still achieve what it is that He has placed in our hearts to achieve. As a mother, this is one life lesson that I have endured for her that is priceless and one I know she will rely on in her future whether I'm there to help her through it or not."
Campbellsville University to begin new RN to BSN program for School of Nursing
By Natasha Janes
CAMPBELLSVILLE, KY (Campbellsville University)--Campbellsville University will be starting a program for registered nurses to earn their bachelor's of science degree in nursing beginning in May.
The mission of the RN to BSN completion program is to offer a higher level of nursing education through an innovative and highly accessible curriculum, according to Beverly Rowland, associate professor of nursing.
"The program is tailored to the working adult and classes will be offered online in asynchronous classes, meaning students will be able to attend on their own schedule without time constraints."
The completion program allows the registered nurse to continue with work, family and community commitments while pursuing that dream of professional achievement, she said.
"I am very pleased that Campbellsville University can finally provide this opportunity for community nurses who are eager to advance their education in nursing," she said.
"In the past, nurses have had to travel some distance from surrounding communities to pursue higher education, taking time away from families and work. Now they can study in their own community and focus on everyday living while fulfilling that calling for lifelong learning and professional expertise."
Dr. Bob Wade, dean of the School of Nursing, said, "Earning an associate's in nursing and starting a career in nursing, then returning to school to earn a BSN is a sensible and practical way for RNs to secure their future and upward mobility in the profession."
Christie Glasscock, a CU student and instructor, is very excited about the program and said, "This is a great opportunity for RNs like myself, with an associate degree, to further their education and their careers. I have been a RN for 18 years and I have taught nursing assisting for six years, I am taking the BSN classes so that I can teach LPN or RN classes in the future."
Dustin Ford, a CU student from Campbellsville, said, "The essentials and growth that I received in the ADN program at CU makes me excited to experience the BSN program. I did not only learn how to be a skillful nurse, but I also learned to be a compassionate and holistic nurse at Campbellsville University's Nursing School. Therefore I look forward to developing those key characteristics even more in this program."
Nursing alumni of Campbellsville University, along with those who have an RN degree from another school or live in another state, are welcome to apply to the program.
The admissions process to the program is as follows: application to the university, application to the School of Nursing and transcripts and licensure information sent to CU followed by a letter of acceptance.
Students must verify work experience as a registered nurse, and there is flexibility entering the program at different times of the year. Core nursing courses will be offered throughout the year and the student may enter at any point in time.
If most or all general education requirements are met, many can complete the program in approximately 15 to 18 months.
This new RN to BSN completion program serves the community and the region through promoting lifelong learning and contributing to the profession of nursing and the health of society, Rowland said.
For more information about the program, contact Beverly Rowland at (270) 789-5155 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Campbellsville University is a widely acclaimed Kentucky-based Christian university with more than 3,500 students offering 63 undergraduate options, 17 master's degrees, five postgraduate areas and eight pre-professional programs. The website for complete information is campbellsville.edu.
Natasha Janes is a student news writer for Campbellsville University.
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