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Serbian Orthodox Church in North and South America

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Eparchies of the Serbian Orthodox Church in North America
Eparchies of the Serbian Orthodox Church in North America

The Serbian Orthodox Church in North and South America (Serbian: Српска православна црква у Северној и Јужној Америци) is the name for the jurisdiction of the Serbian Orthodox Church (SPC) in the Americas. It has five eparchies (dioceses), that were reorganized in 2009.[1] It also has a central church council made up of diocesan bishops, and almost 220 churches, chapels, monasteries and sketes in the United States, Canada, and South and Central America.[2]


Serbian Orthodox priest Sebastian Dabovich (1863-1940), born in San Francisco
Serbian Orthodox priest Sebastian Dabovich (1863-1940), born in San Francisco

The arrival of first Serbian Orthodox Christian emigrants to the Americas began in the first half of the 19th century. Those were mainly Serbs from the Austrian Empire (later Austria-Hungary), and also, by the end of the century, from the Kingdom of Serbia and Principality of Montenegro. Emigration was mainly directed to the United States. Among emigrants, there were several Serbian Orthodox priests, and by the end of the 19th-century first parish communities were established and churches built. Wrote Fern A. Wallace in his 1974 book, "The Flame and the Candle", that the city of Douglas (now Juno, Alaska) was a very rich mining town at the turn of the century. During this time, large groups of Serbs from Montenegro came to Douglas to work in the gold mines of the Treadwell Company. Among these Serb pioneers arose the traditional desire to establish their own church as well as their own print shop. An article told of the first Serbian pioneers in Alaska and their fraternal efforts to build a church for themselves and for the generations of Serbs in Alaska. These documents were signed by 286 members of the Saint Sava Church (Douglas, Alaska), eight members of the church board, and three priests, headed by Archimandrite Sebastian Dabovich.[3]

Saint Francisco Bay Area can be rightly considered one of the first centers of Orthodox Christianity in the United States, and Serbs played a major role in its early development. There are documents showing that there were attempts to enlist a Serbian Orthodox priest from Kotor to serve a community as early as the 1870s. Of these early Orthodox priests in America, we know very little about them because of the scarcity of sources on their missions. Somehow more is known of the activities of American-born Father Sebastian Dabovich and the Archimandrite Firmilijan, who came from Serbia to serve the Serbs in Chicago in 1892. It was due primarily to their efforts and to the efforts of the priests who followed them.

In 1893-1894, Saint Sava Serbian Orthodox Church was built in Jackson, California, thanks to the efforts of priest Sebastian Dabovich, who was the first Eastern Orthodox priest born in the USA.[4] Since there was no Serbian Diocese in the US, parishes that were formed during that period were temporarily placed under the jurisdiction of the Russian Orthodox Diocese in North America.

In the eave of the First World War, first steps were made towards the creation of a particular Serbian Orthodox Diocese in the United States, under the ecclesiastical jurisdiction of the Serbian Orthodox Church. It was officially established as Serbian Orthodox Diocese of America and Canada, in 1921, by the Holy Synod of the Serbian Orthodox Church. In 1923, administration of the Diocese was entrusted to archimandrite Mardarije Uskoković, who was elected and consecrated as Serbian Orthodox bishop of America and Canada in 1926. After his death in 1935, the diocese was administered until the election of new bishop Dionisije Milivojević in 1939.[5]

By the middle of the 20th century, the network of Serbian Orthodox communities in the US and Canada was much expanded due to constant immigration, and soon after the Second World War, it was proposed on several occasions to reorganize the wast continental diocese by division into two or three regional dioceses. Those proposals were opposed by Bishop Dionisije who favored centralized administration. Gradually, various administrative problems escalated and by 1963 final decisions were made by the central authorities of the Serbian Orthodox Church to reorganize and divide the diocese into three regional dioceses.[5]

Since 1963, Serbian Orthodox Church in USA and Canada consisted of:

  • Serbian Orthodox Diocese of Eastern America and Canada
  • Serbian Orthodox Diocese of Midwestern America
  • Serbian Orthodox Diocese of Western America

Reorganization was strongly opposed by bishop Dionisije, who was supported by several fractions of Serbian political emigration in the USA. Conflict resulted into schism since Dionisije refused to recognize decisions of the Holy Synod. Thus, two parallel ecclesiastical structures were created, the official "patriarchal" branch organized into three dioceses, and alternative "free" branch headed by Dionisije, who was officially deposed.[5]



Schools and Academies

Notable churches


See also


  1. ^ The Decision of the Holy Assembly of Bishops of the Serbian Orthodox Church on redistribution of dioceses
  2. ^
  3. ^ Wallace, Fern A. (1974). "The flame of the candle: A pictorial history of Russian Orthodox churches in Alaska".
  4. ^ Vuković 1998, p. 38, 255.
  5. ^ a b c Vuković 1998.
  6. ^


External links

This page was last edited on 28 September 2020, at 13:55
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