A Match Made in Heaven

The continuous search for a place to reside led St. Athanasius and St. Cyril Theological School to Claremont. However, when ACTS finally settled down, many people wondered why Claremont had been selected as the new home for ACTS. The comprehensive list of assets offered in both partnerships with Claremont Graduate University and Claremont School of Theology made Claremont the ideal place to establish a Coptic Theological School.

Claremont Graduate University (CGU) is home to a center for Coptic Studies in the Western World. The Coptic Studies Track (http://www.cgu.edu/pages/9884.asp) at CGU has been offering graduate level courses and research on the Coptic language, art, architecture, history, and culture for several decades. CGU houses the unique Claremont Coptic Encyclopedia, a collection of more than 2800 articles circling around the Coptic traditions and continuously expanding to include the growing body of Coptic scholarship from around the world. This global initiative is the first of its kind, combining the world’s knowledge on Copts in one central location. However, the Claremont Coptic Encyclopedia is only one of the many projects CGU has undertaken. Moreover, in 2016, CGU will host the International Congress of Coptic Studies. Held every four years, this Congress is the largest international convention on Coptic Studies in the world. Thus, as the international community for Coptic Studies has recognized, CGU is one of the most instrumental centers in the world for Coptic scholarship.

From a geographical standpoint, Claremont School of Theology is located centrally within the Diocese of Los Angeles, providing an easily accessible hub of Coptic education. In fact, throughout our search for a permanent location, Claremont was located within the center of that circle. Along with the ideal location, CST welcomed ACTS with open arms, allowing the Coptic Theological School to establish itself independently. At the same time, ACTS students will have access to the Claremont School of Theology Library, which houses extensive volumes of books, as well as digital access to thousands of other theological books and periodicals. The Library also houses the voluminous Ernest Tune Coptic Collection, which contains materials covering the languages, literatures, history and archaeology of the Nile Valley cultures from the early Hellenistic period through the early medieval period of Nubian and Coptic Christianity.

This invaluable partnership is not easily come by and is a significant contributing factor as to why ACTS chose Claremont: because Claremont is its best chance to thrive. By joining in collaboration with CST and CGU, ACTS also gains access to the resources of the Claremont Consortium, a collection of highly-acclaimed undergraduate colleges and graduate universities, boasting a total student body of about 7,000. This partnership, thus puts ACTS on the front line, giving it the ability to interact with a large and varied student and faculty body.

Besides the obvious academic attributes that Claremont provides, a long and solid history with the schools established a strong foundation on which to build a Coptic Orthodox Theological School. An ongoing relationship between the Claremont schools and the Church was rooted, beginning under the leadership of the Thrice Blessed Pope Shenouda III and His Grace Bishop Serapion as well as with the constant support and work of Dr. Michael Saad. Under Pope Shenouda III, of blessed memory, the concept of the Coptic Theological School was born and was continually worked towards until it finally took root in Claremont this year.

Locating in Claremont provides St. Athanasius and St. Cyril Theological School with combined benefits that are unique. Because of ACTS partnership with both CGU and CST, the theological school has the resources it needs to not only grow but also join the two schools in creating an unprecedented center for Coptic learning in Claremont, continuing the legacy that St. Mark the apostle planted in the School of Alexandria.

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