The project is carried out under the general supervisionof Revd. Sergii Sannikov, PhD in Philosophy; Doctor of Science in Theology
The religious situation in Eastern Europe after the collapse of the Soviet Union underwent rapid and significant changes. In the last decade of the twentieth century atheist society was filled with a variety of religious forms. There was a surge in religious activity in all confessions, and especially among evangelicals. The intense influx of neophytes has led to the revitalization of all forms of church life and to the emergence to seeking new, unconventional ways of worship. However, experiments in the field of practical liturgical forms were often carried out on the enthusiasm brought from the experience of the secular life from the Soviet period or on copying foreign, most influential and spectacular samples without theoretical analysis. It means, that development of liturgical practice did not have a deep theological foundation due to the lack of a meaningful and clearly articulated evangelical theology, which for obvious reasons did not develop in previous decades.
The first decade of the twenty-first century has stifled religious enthusiasm. In this time in Eastern Europe one can be watch trend to search more deep spirituality and the same time most people have become content with ritualism. Many researchers note that society in this part of the world began to change and it acquired features of post-secularity similar to West European society. The second decade of the third millennium clearly demonstrates the stratification of public consciousness: the main part of society is satisfied by external religious forms, and the other (smaller) part is looking for a serious spiritual life. It is quite obvious that Eastern Europe entered the post-Christian world and the evangelical churches has matured for in-depth understanding of the various forms of its worship and the very phenomenon of "serving God".
The need for a serious and large-scale research project in the field of Liturgical Theology is evident not only in the Eastern European region, but also in almost all parts of the world. The liturgical revival, begun in the bowels of the Catholic Church back in the 19th century, has long captured all confessional groups, however, evangelicals participate in it quite carefully. The only exception is perhaps the British Baptists, who develop the Baptist Sacramentalism movement. Thus, the relevance of studying Sacramental Theology is obvious from both a theoretical and a practical point of view.
The project Evangelical Liturgical Theology involves a comprehensive study of the theoretical concepts and practical application this important phenomenon of church life. Liturgical Theology is understood not only as liturgy inside the church, but also as a joint service to God and to people in the broad sense. Therefore, the biblical, historical and theological principle is focused and revealed in Liturgical Theology. The theoretical part of the project dedicated to the historical roots, biblical foundations, theological interpretations and philosophical generalizations of the church services in their components - in the worship, prayers, benediction, proclamation of the Word, etc. The practical component includes the study, analysis and generalization of the existing diverse experience of the church life, using a variety of methods of social research and system technologies. The methodological basis of the project is a holistic approach, involving a holistic generalization of diverse phenomena in order to produce the recommendations and suggestions for practical life. This helps to find the place of Evangelical Liturgical Theology in the general paradigm of theological thought and include it in the ecumenical and modern context of the rapidly changing post-secular world.The main research questions are following:
What is worship and its components in an ecclesiological perspective? What exactly happens during the gathering of congregation? How to find a harmony of serving God and serving people in church meetings? How do the didactic, sensual-emotional and directly spiritual aspects of worship relate to each other? What theological significance are the collective forms of church gathering and how do they relate to the individual? What role does the aesthetics of the word and the aesthetics of space play in the process of worship? What are Church rituals, customs and traditions? What factors influence the actualization of the sacred presence and provide an encounter with God in the Church space?
The answers to these questions allow us to talk about finding adequate forms of worship services for the evangelical congregations. It's obviously that these forms are infinitely varied and depend on cultural and historical parameters and cannot be frozen, but should be sensitive to the guidance of the Spirit in each a concrete historical moment and be deeply rooted in biblical theology.
The whole project is designed for 10 years and includes several parallel directions, each of which is associated with the study of the individual structural components of the evangelical service and/or to study different confessional horizons. The program is carried out in an interdisciplinary manner and involves the regular publication of research results in academic journals, in monographs and paper collections; participation at scientific and theological conferences; providing the seminars and consultations, active PR activities to attract enthusiasts to the development of liturgical theology. In future – to start a scientific periodical publication "Liturgical theology in Eastern Europe" and the formation of a specialized library in this field.
From the beginning of 2018, a part of the project that focused on Baptist sacramentalism - was launched. The title of this direction – "Baptist sacramentalism: theological and historical reflections in the East European context". In 2018 water baptism in the Baptist tradition was studied and as result – 25 academic publications, and monograph "Signs of the Presence: Water Baptism" were issued and published.
In 2019-20. the Lord's Supper is being studied in the context of Baptist Sacramentology. We suppose to make academic publications in scientific periodicals, including the preparation of the second monograph "Signs of the Presence: Lord's Supper" and the publication of the chapter in the British collection Wipf and Stock publisher - Baptist Sacramentalism 3. It is also expected to be held with Odessa National University open theological seminar "Liturgical traditions and renovations in Eastern Europe."
In the years 2021-22. it is planned to study the laying on of hands (ordination) in the Baptist tradition with relevant publications and the issue of the third monograph, "Signs of the Presence: Ordination," the academic publications in scientific periodicals and the holding of a theological conference on liturgical theology.
In the years 2023-27. is planned a study of the historical, biblical and theological foundations of the Baptist worship within the framework of Baptist ecclesiology with the publication of the final monograph in this series: "The Sign of the Presence: The Church" (sketch of Baptist ecclesiology and sacramentology), a series of publications in scientific periodicals and two theological workshops.
Also is planned the translation and publication of Brian Haymes, Ruth Gouldbourne, and Anthony R Cross book: "On Being the Church." Coordinator – Sergii Sannikov.
From the middle of 2020, another direction of the project will begin, connected to the theological understanding of the liturgical ministry out-of-church structures, i.e. public ministry of the church. The focus of this direction is "The liturgical ministry of the Church outside the church". The publication of a series of scientific articles and the monograph are supposed. Coordinator – Alexander Geychenko.
From 2021, one more direction of the project will began, dedicated to the study of the liturgical features of the service of the Pentecostal movement. On this topic we also supposed to have a series of scientific publications and monographs. A separate direction will be the study of the discourse of prophecy in a historical perspective, which is conducted by Michael Chernyavsky, as well as liturgical studies of the early Christian congregations by Valery Alikin. Coordinator – Michael Mokienko.