Home: Tartu, Estonia. Workplace: Amsterdam.
That’s quite a commute for Toivo Pilli (Director of Baptist and Anabaptist Studies at IBTSC). The good news for him is he doesn’t have to do it every day! He travels to Amsterdam several times a year for meetings, face-to-face supervision of students, teaching on our MA programme, conferences or other special events. The rest of the time he works from his home in Estonia – assessing student work, supervising PhD students by email and Skype, writing academic papers for publication and he also serves as part-time pastor of Salem Baptist Church in Tartu. Toivo is a PhD graduate of IBTS Prague, where he taught from 2002 to 2006. He is married to Einike, who is the rector of Tartu Theological Seminary, the educational centre for the Union of Free Evangelical and Baptist Churches of Estonia, and she serves as the only female member of the Union’s executive board. Einike was herself one of the Tartu Seminary’s first students after it was allowed to re-open in 1989. She completed her doctoral studies in theology at the University of Tartu, and she is also an adjunct faculty member at IBTSC. Toivo and Einike have three sons – Iisak (21), Siimeon (18) and Timoteos (16).
Toivo tells me that the software for Skype was invented by Estonians. He says Estonians are described as people who have an iPhone in one hand and a small knife for mushroom-picking in another! Despite his obvious pride in being Estonian, Toivo has adopted at least one aspect of Dutch culture by buying a bike which he keeps in Amsterdam so he can join the merry throng of cyclists every morning and evening when he comes to IBTSC.
Best thing about Estonia:
Einike: Its size – it is small. Toivo: Saunas and home-made black rye bread.
What do you like to do to relax?
Toivo: Walk. Spend time in the archives – this equates emotionally to fishing! (really?) Einike: Go out and listen to jazz with my best friends (better!).
Challenges for IBTSC in Amsterdam:
To provide an environment where Baptists can reflect theologically on identity, mission and practice – especially on the many difficult issues that face Europe today.
Best part of working at IBTSC:
Two ‘best’ things! The people we work with – the sense of community and belonging together because of a shared interest; the sense of joy – that what we do is meaningful and important.
After reading this, you really need to visit Estonia (see our earlier blogpost on 4 October 2016: Estonia is closer than you think!).