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The Coptic Center has been in operation now in its current location for nearly two years, and already we feel the need to expand, especially the microfiche facilities. Since its opening, many visitors have passed through its doors. Its visitors came from all over the United States, Canada, and Egypt. They were Coptic Bishops and priests, members of the Society and the community, and youth seeking to know about their heritage as well as scholars in Coptic and other related fields. Most notable among the visitors from Egypt were Bishop Morcos of Shubra al-Khaima, Fr. Antonious Amin of Cairo, and Dr. Gawdat Gabra of the Coptic Museum. Everyone interested to sample or dig deep in our dearest possession, our Coptic Heritage, is welcome to come. The hours when visitors are welcome are weekdays from 6-9 p.m. and any time during the weekends. Because of staff limitation, we urge you to call ahead before coming so we can be ready. The telephone number is (310) 558-3973 or (310) 271-8329, or fax your message on (310) 5581863. The street address is 1494 So. Robertson Blvd., Suite 204, LA, CA 90035.
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The Society's monumental work in publishing the treasures that the Coptic Heritage possesses, has continued. We have expanded the scope that this series will cover to include literature written in Arabic for use in the Coptic Church such as Patristic, Hagiographic, and Liturgical texts. This would increase the number of volumes planned by over 50%. A preliminary report was published in commemoration of the Center's Open House on December 4, 1993, copies are still available to be ordered.
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a. The Nagi Khalil Coptic Software Center (NKCSC): A few years ago, a center to produce and distribute IBM computer software to promote the Coptic Heritage, was introduced. It was named after our energetic vice-president of the late 80's, Mr. Nagi Khalil, who fulfilled his mission on earth several years ago and is helping us with his prayers before the throne of the Almighty. His pioneering and bold attitude was symbolic of what we were trying to do.
During the past year, we produced our first two software titles. The first in April 95, was an introductory comprehensive course in teaching Bohairic Coptic in the method currently used at the center as well as the Coptic Seminary in Los Angeles. It was distributed with a small Coptic-English Dictionary module. The software works under Microsoft Windows applications, Word for Windows and Excel. The second software, released in July 95, was the long-awaited Bohairic-English Dictionary. This is an electronic viewer of the largest collection of Bohairic and Greek words used in the Coptic Language. It is fully alphabetized and all sub-entries are cross-referenced. Periodic updates of this work will be published as needed. This software requires Microsoft Windows only to run.
This month we are planning the release of our largest work yet, which is the Coptic New Testament. This work will include the entire version of the Coptic New Testament in Bohairic and Sahidic Coptic as well as parallel copies of the King James English Version and the Greek Version. It is arranged in two modules, Bohairic/English & Sahidic/Greek. The Coptic text, Bohairic and Sahidic, was inputted several published sources, but modified orthographically for the sake of standardizing the text and making it more intelligible to those with non-academic Coptic knowledge. The Software will work under Windows.
Other programs are in different stages of development such as the Annual Lectionary (Coptic-English), slide presentations of the Coptic Monuments, CD on St. Shenouda the Archimandrite.
b. Image Digitizing: This past year, we continued experimenting with digitizing Coptic images, Art, Architecture, manuscripts, ...etc. We are doing this with our economical full color scanner that we purchased the past fiscal year. This coming year we are planning, funds-permitting, a program to digitize our microfilm collection for easier access using special cameras and digitizing equipment. We are hoping to involve a large number of youth volunteers in that endeavor.
c. Global Access (Internet): In August of this year, Mr. George Ghaly one of our new members in the New York area, send us a e-mail message. In it he suggested that the Society should explore the possibility of going on the Internet's World Wide Web (WWW) to present our work, activities, and our Heritage to the World. We took George at his suggestion and we are planning to have a site available for our members as well as the world to view what we are all about. The site will be officially complete on December 4, 1995. Its Address is:
We hope, God's willing, to be able to connect our own server. This will greatly expand the scope of material that we can present.
d. Miscellaneous: A simple 2-computer network was developed at the center to better utilize the limited computer resources available to us. We are still looking for brave young men and women to help us in inputting the vast number of Coptic and English texts that are needed for the work. All using IBM PC's are welcome.
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During the past year the library grew to nearly 1,300 volumes of material in the different branches of Coptic Studies. We expanded the library in nearly every section of its more than 14 different sections. We are continuing the expansion and the development of the library to contain all the necessary references required by those who want to learn and/or to research the Coptic Heritage. The most notable additions were as follows:
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I. Manuscripts: The greatest asset of the Society has been its Microfilm library, or more accurately its Microform library. It was formed as early as 1980 and has expanded ever since. It has grown to over 202,000 frames. The only limiting factors for developing this collection further are financial constraints (limited funds, and low dollar value) and resistance of some libraries to recognize the legitimacy of our requests!
This past year was the most productive year since the acquisition of the greater portion of the Cairo Coptic Museum in 1992. We acquired microfilms and microfiche of Coptic and Arabic Christian manuscripts from six different institutions in Europe. Five were from British collections, and the sixth is from France. Seven came from Cambridge Univ. (CU), 20 from Oxford's Bodleian Lib.(OB), 22 from Birmingham Mingana Collection (MG), 8 from London School of African Studies (SOAS), 54 from London's British Library (BL), and 32 Arabic ones from Paris's National Library of France (PA). The acquired microfilms are arranged as follows (Arabic=Ar or PA):
II. Research Material: The Society also acquired 147 microfiche of research material from IDC in Holland. This included 7 Rare books and two archives of photographs from Egypt. The Photographic archives has over 7,500 photographs of Ancient Egyptian Art, including several Coptic material, and historical photographs. Such resources greatly enriched our already mammoth collection of research material in the field of Coptic Studies.
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The Society successfully completed two 'Coptic I' classes at the Coptic Center during the year. Another 'Coptic I' is being conducted at the Orange County Mini Coptic Center, by Mr. Joseph Fahim of the staff there. A total of 14 students were/are enrolled in these 15-week courses. A new session will start in late October of this year at St. Peter and St. Paul Coptic Orthodox Church in Santa Monica, CA. The Advanced Coptic Seminar is currently working on a 10th century Homily of St. Theodosius of Alexandria on the Virgin Mary. A total of seven student are enrolled in this one. A second session for translating Sahidic Apophthgamata Patrum Texts also started, with a total of 5 participants. The Manuscripts workshop is continuing, slowly but surely, with about 4 students. The Society's president, Hany Takla, is currently teaching the 1st year Coptic Course in Pope Shenouda III Theological Seminary in Los Angeles. A total of five students are enrolled there. The Seminary Faculty has preliminarily recognized the Coptic I course, taught as the Center, as an acceptable equivalent to the one taught at the Seminary. Requirements for such acceptance is still pending.
A Comprehensive Coptic Studies Curriculum of 3-year duration is being planned. This will include about 21 classes with 30-hours of instructions each. It will cover all aspects of Coptic Studies that are necessary for the Preservation and Revival of the Coptic Heritage. The level of instructions will be at Upper Division to Graduate University Level. Instructions will emphasize Manuscript research and methodology. A fee will be charged for these classes. It is hoped, God's willing, that some of these classes can be offered during this fiscal year.
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a. Newsletter: This past year, the Coptic Center staff published a quarterly newsletter that brought out some of the work being done using the resources available at the Center. Four issues were published and mailed to our members and others interested individuals throughout the world.
b. Annual Bulletin: For those interested in history, you may remember our first volume of the Annual Bulletin, back in 1984-5. It was a special issue dealing with the martyrs and martyrdom in the Coptic Church. Now we are ready for volume 2, which will be available in November of this year. This time it will be a collection of 4 articles by our members. It will be send to all dues-paying members as part of their membership. Any one else interested in sampling this work, will be able to do so at a nominal fee.
c. Coptic Word Games Handbook: In an effort to encourage the knowledge of the Coptic Language among our youth, we are preparing a Coptic Word Games Handbook. It is being prepared by 16 of our Coptic youth, affiliated with the new mini Coptic Center. The effort is coordinated by the most diligent Miss Mariam Fahim. The fruit of this wonderful endeavor will be available in December of this year.
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The cooperation with the Scriptorium in the field of Coptic Studies continued. We included news about the excavation they are conducting in Wadi N' Natrun in our Newsletters. Further, we are sending one of our students, Mr. Maged S. Mikhail, to participate in the 1996 dig season and the great educational program that will be offered in conjunction with it. Drs. Scott Carroll and Bastiaan van Eldren lectured about the results of the first season of the dig at our Mini Coptic Center in Orange County on September 10, 1995. They will also make a similar presentation along with an impressive display of Coptic and other biblical manuscripts and rare books at St. Peter and St. Paul Coptic Orthodox Church in Santa Monica, CA on October 28, at 8 p.m.. May God's work prosper now and forever.
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During the year we were successful in acquiring a 400-slide set of Coptic sites from the renowned photographer Mr. Paul Kuiper of Oregon. This set was acquired for research purposes only. It came in Slides form as well as digitized images on CD's. They are available at the Center.
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Prepared by Hany N. Takla 4/18/96
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