ORGANIZATION

The Serbian Orthodox Church is an autocephalous, or ecclesiastically independent, member of the Orthodox communion, located primarily in Serbia, Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Croatia. Since many Serbs have emigrated to foreign countries, now there are now many Serbian Orthodox communities on all continents.Soon after their arrrival to Balkans the Serbian tribes were successively baptised by Christian missionaries and became Orthodox Christians. The consecration of St. Sava as autocephalous Archbishop of Serbia in 1219, even more strengthened various Serbian principalities in their ecclesia- stical allegiance to Constantinople and Christian East.

Later, as the medieval kingdom of Serbia grew in size and prestige and Stefan Dusan, king of Serbia from 1331, assumed the imperial title of tsar in 1346 to 1355, the Archbishopric of Pec was correspondingly raised to the rank of Patriarchate. The period before the arrival of the Turks was the time of the greatest flourishing of the Serbian Church. After the final Turkish conquest of the most influental Serbian principality in 1459, the greater portion of Serbian lands became a Turkish pasalik (province). After the death of Patriarch Arsenios II in 1463 a successor was not elected. The Patriarchate was thus de facto abolished, and the Serbian Church passed under the jurisdiction of the Ecumenical Patriarchate. The Serbian Patriarchate was restored in 1557 by the Turkish sultan Suleiman the Magnificent. Macarios, brother of the famous Mehmed Pasha Sokolovic was elected Patriarch in Pec The supreme authority of the Serbian Church, the Holy Synod, is composed of all its bishops, who meet once a year in May. There is also a standing Synod of four members who administer the day-to-day affairs of the church, which is estimated to number some nine million faithful. DIASPORA lives in freedom and from such a position would be called upon to help both the church and the people in the present time of their struggle, which in many instances is similar to that of the first Kosovo centuries ago. Having this in mind, the efforts of the Serbian People within the country, and those in diaspora should be directed to defend and preserve its tried and lasting spiritual and moral values in a fast changing world of ours. The loss of the specific character of Church and nation would be the loss of their existence in the future.