From September 27-29, 2022, Nevskaya Ratusha Business Center in St. Petersburg hosted a conference on religious journalism, an annual event organized by the Administration of the St. Petersburg Governor. This year’s topic was “Confessional Mass Media and Prevention of Religious Extremism.” The conference gathered government officials, university professors, researchers, secular and religious media workers, clergy and lay religious leaders, and graduate students.
The attendance included members of the city’s Lutheran community. Among other speakers at the plenary meeting on the first day, Rev. Mikhail Ivanov, Chief Secretary of The Evangelical Lutheran Church of Ingria in Russia (ELCIR), senior pastor of St. Mary’s Church, extended greetings to the conference and spoke about the importance of spreading knowledge of religion.
A roundtable discussion on the second day revolved around such topics as how religious organizations can get on media agenda and stay out of scandalous contexts; whether secular media should use religion researchers or actual members of religious confessions as experts; how to facilitate interaction between researchers of religions and church journalists.
Among other presenters, Darya Shkurlyatyeva, responsible editor for the ELCIR churchwide medias, gave a talk on the topic “The Awareness-Raising Potential of Interconfessional Activities: Contributing to a Positive Public Image of Religious Confessions (the experience of the ELCIR in organizing such activities.)” Darya shared about two interdenominational media seminars organized at the ELCIR Theological Institute in collaboration with the Department for Relations with Religious Organizations in the St. Petersburg Governor’s Administration.
In her presentation, Elvira Zhejds, church council chairperson, St. Catherine’s Lutheran Church of St. Petersburg, The Evangelical Lutheran Church of Russia (ELCR), focused on the importance of a reverent attitude to the sacred things of religions and competent coverage of religious events in mass media.
The city’s Lutheran community was also represented by Oksana Dyba, information coordinator, ELCIR Karelian Deanery, and Yelena Kugappi, secretary, ELCIR Mission Dept., Open Kirche Project coordinator.
As part of a press tour on the last day of the conference, its participants visited Sts. Peter and Paul Church (ELCR), St. Mary’s Cathedral (ELCIR), and Smolenskoye Lutheran Cemetery.
According to the St. Petersburg Governor’s Administration, the city has 492 registered centralized and local religious associations. Of them, 64 percent belong to The Russian Orthodox Church, and ca. 30 percent belong to other Christian confessions.
Photo credits: Mikhail Fateyev, Yelena Kugappi, Svetlana Stanpakova