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Serbian Orthodox Church in North and South America (1921 - Present) - Religious Group

Religious Family: Eastern Liturgical (Orthodox)
Religious Tradition: Orthodox
Description: Serbian Orthodox parishes (congregations) and dioceses in the United States are part of the Serbian Orthodox Church (headquartered in Belgrade, Serbia). The Serbian Orthodox Church in North America has its origins in the immigration of Serbs, starting in the mid-19th century, from various regions of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, as well as Dalmatia and Montenegro in the Balkans. St. Sava Church in Jackson, California, is the oldest Serbian Orthodox church in America. It was founded in 1894 by Archimandrite Sebastian Dabovich, the first US-born Serbian Orthodox priest and missionary, who was later (2015) glorified as a Saint. Originally, Serbian Orthodox parishes in America were under the supervision of the multi-ethnic North American Diocese of the Russian Orthodox Church. In 1921, in the wake of the Communist revolution in Russia, Serbian Orthodox parishes formed the Diocese of the Serbian Orthodox Church under the administration of the Patriarchate in Belgrade, Yugoslavia. In 1927, Bishop Mardarije (Uskokovich) became the first bishop of the Serbian Diocese of America and Canada. After WWII, the Orthodox Serbians in America were affected and divided by the political changes in their homeland, Yugoslavia, ruled by the Communist government of Marshal Josip Tito. In 1963, disagreements over whether to remain faithful to the Mother Church in Serbia or whether to separate themselves from the Patriarchate of Belgrade (allegedly manipulated by the Communist state) resulted in a final split between the two factions. A group of parishes led by Bishop Dionisije (Milvojevic) formed a new, independent American Serbian Orthodox Church body – the Serbian Metropolitanate of New Gracanica headquartered in New Gracanica Monastery at Third Lake, IL. In 1998, the unity between the two groups was restored. In 2009, the Serbian Orthodox Church in the United States was restructured so that now it consists of three dioceses: Eastern America, New Gracanica – Midwestern America, and Western America. Many Serbian church buildings in America are examples of classic Serbo-Byzantine architecture that include unique elements from the Middle Ages. The New Gracanica Monastery in Third Lake, IL, is an impressive architectural replica of the Old Gracanica of Kosovo, the famous church that was continually destroyed and rebuilt in the course of the history. Like the Russian Orthodox Church, the Serbian Orthodox Church adheres to the “Old” (Julian) liturgical calendar, which is 13 days behind the “New” (Gregorian) secular calendar that is used by most Christian Churches around the world. A noteworthy characteristic of Serbian Orthodox chant is that it frequently incorporates folk melodies. Many of these melodies are now sung in the English language and are being used in worship by other American Orthodox communities as well.
Official Site:

Maps: Serbian Orthodox Church in North and South America1

Adherence Rate per 1,000 (2020)

Congregations (2020)

Top 5 Serbian Orthodox Church in North and South America States (2020)1 [View all States]

Rank State Congregations Adherents Adherence Rate
1 Wisconsin 4 4,430 0.75
2 Arizona 3 5,300 0.74
3 Nevada 2 2,050 0.66
4 Illinois 11 7,830 0.61
5 Michigan 6 5,633 0.56

Top 5 Serbian Orthodox Church in North and South America Counties (2020)1 [View all Counties]

Rank County Congregations Adherents Adherence Rate
1 Beaver County, PA 2 1,001 5.95
2 Milwaukee County, WI 2 4,150 4.42
3 Silver Bow County, MT 1 154 4.38
4 Lake County, IN 4 2,035 4.08
5 Amador County, CA 1 160 3.95

Top 5 Serbian Orthodox Church in North and South America Metro Areas (2020)1 [View all Metro Areas]

Rank Metro Congregations Adherents Adherence Rate
1 Butte-Silver Bow, MT Micro Area 1 154 4.38
2 Milwaukee-Waukesha, WI Metro Area 2 4,150 2.64
3 Monroe, MI Metro Area 1 380 2.45
4 Akron, OH Metro Area 3 1,548 2.20
5 Sierra Vista-Douglas, AZ Metro Area 1 200 1.59

Serbian Orthodox Church in North and South America, Members (1925 - 2005)2

Serbian Orthodox Church in North and South America, Ministers & Churches (1925 - 2005)2

Serbian Orthodox Church in North and South America, Trends (1925 - 2005)2

1925 100,000 32 35
1929 100,000 32 35
1933 100,000 35
1935 100,000 32 35
1937 35
1940 100,000 35
1942 110,000 45
1947 75,000 46
1952 75,000 60 47
1953 100,000 65 53
1955 100,000 60 53
1957 150,000 68 61
1959 250,000 80 73
1960 125,000 78 71
1961 130,000 77 73
1963 50,000 72 76
1967 65,000 64 52
1981 95,000 74 77
1982 97,123 73 75
1986 67,000 82 68
2005 67,000 82 68


1 The 2020 data were collected by the Association of Statisticians of American Religious Bodies (ASARB) and include data for 372 religious bodies or groups. Of these, the ASARB was able to gather data on congregations and adherents for 217 and on congregations only for 155. [More information on the data sources]

2 All data on clergy, members, and churches are taken from the National Council of Churches’ Historic Archive CD and recent print editions of the Council’s Yearbook of American and Canadian Churches. The CD archives all 68 editions of the Yearbook (formerly called Yearbook of the Churches and Yearbook of American Churches) from 1916 to 2000. Read more information on the Historic Archive CD and the Yearbook.

Membership figures are "inclusive." According to the Yearbook, this includes "those who are full communicant or confirmed members plus other members baptized, non-confirmed or non-communicant." Each denomination has its own criteria for membership.

When a denomination listed on the Historic Archive CD was difficult to identify, particularly in early editions of the Yearbook, the ARDA staff consulted numerous sources, including Melton’s Encyclopedia of American Religions and the Handbook of Denominations in the United States. In some cases, ARDA staff consulted the denomination’s website or contacted its offices by phone. When a denomination could not be positively identified, its data were omitted.

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