On September 16, 2021, ELCIR Bishop Ivan Laptev participated in the meeting of the Advisory Council of the Heads of Protestant Churches in Russia. The 90th meeting took place in Moscow.
An important item on the agenda was the future work of the recently established Council for Protestant Education. Bishop Laptev is on its board as Rector of the ELCIR Theological Institute.
The Council for Protestant Education plans to join the Scientific-Educational Theological Association, NOTA, and has sent a letter with this intention to NOTA President, Metropolitan Hilarion (Alfeyev). This is expected to take place in early December.
NOTA is a voluntary association of higher education institutions established in 2018 in order to pool and exchange expertise in organization, procedures, and methodology of research in the field of theology. The founders include two Russian Orthodox institutions: Sts. Cyril and Methodius Churchwide Graduate and Doctoral School and St. Tycho Humanitarian University. Notably, seven of the nine NOTA founders are major secular higher education institutions: Moscow State University, St. Petersburg State University, North Caucasian Federal University, Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration, National Research Nuclear University MEPhI (Moscow Engineering Physics Institute), Moscow State Pedagogical University, and Moscow Architectural Institute.
Currently, 70 educational organizations are members of NOTA.
On September 16, the Advisory Council discussed the possibility of developing a master’s program for Protestants, which the students could do extramurally or online. They also discussed the possibilities of graduate and doctoral programs.
Attending the meeting were workers of the Institute of Religion and Policy and the Slavic Center for Law and Justice. They offered a constructive discussion of the realistic possibility for Protestants in Russia to use their constitutional right to confess their religion individually or with others, disseminate their religious beliefs, and act in accordance with them (Article 28 of the Constitution of the Russian Federation.)