Toivo Pilli, IBTSC director of Baptist and Anabaptist studies, participated at the conference ‘The Identity of the People of God in the Bible, History and Theology’ in St Petersburg. The conference took place in April this year and was organised by St Petersburg Christian University. Valeriy Alikin, Rector of the University, said in his opening address: ‘Identity is a popular topic, it is “on the top of the wave”. People try to understand themselves and they ask who they are.’
About 35-40 participants gathered around the topic of religious identity which was explored from different angles. Bert Jan Lietaert Peerbolte from Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam, discussed Paul’s theological roots and identity which was inseparable from Judaism, as he argued. Toivo Pilli gave a paper about Estonian Revivalist Believer’s use of the Bible and Biblical imagery in their search for identity in the 19th Century. Many papers, delivered by the teachers of SPbCU and other theologians, dealt with Biblical topics. In addition, religious identity was studied from sociological, historical and leadership perspectives. Andrey Slabyi, a research student of IBTSC, was also a presenter at the conference.
Some St Petersburg Christian University staff members have received their degrees in the Netherlands, for example, Valeriy Alikin earned his PhD from Leiden University, and Sergei Lagunov, IBTSC graduate from master’s programme, has received his PhD from Protestant Theological University (PThU). In this way, cooperating within the framework of the same conference had symbolic meaning of cross-cultural and mutual international enrichment.