The Serbian Orthodox Church
The Orthodox Church is a divine institution. The Founder and the head of the Orthodox Church is Jesus Christ, the Son of God. When we examine the inner structure of the Orthodox Church, we find that it represents a society of the faithful united into one body by the Orthodox doctrine (teaching), divine laws, hierarchy (priesthood) and sacraments.
Although the Serbian Orthodox Church is an independent, autonomous (self-governing) Church in administrative matters. The Serbian Orthodox Church is in full spiritual communion with all other Orthodox Churches in the World. Together with all other Orthodox Church, the Serbian Orthodox Church constitutes one and the same “body” of Jesus Christ, that is, one and the same Orthodox Church. Each member of the Church lives in a mystical union and communion with the whole Church. It is not a unity expressed in jurisdictional power, that is, in governing and legislative power; it is a unity in faith, love and hope. This unity of the Church has been manifested most strikingly in the gatherings of the spiritual representatives of all the Orthodox Church, that is the bishops in Ecumenical Councils.
Orthodox is a Greek term which means “the right kind of believing”; it signifies also faithfulness and devotion to the pure Christian doctrine (teaching).
The Orthodox Church is called the Apostolic Church, because it was organised by the holy apostles, and because it has preserved the Apostolic Tradition. The holy apostles appointed and consecrated their own successors, called bishops. These in turn appointed and consecrated their own successors, and so on, up to the present time. This is called Apostolic Succession. In other words, Apostolic Succession has been preserved in Orthodoxy.
The Serbian Orthodox Church is a Serbian National Church. The Apostolic Canons and Ecumenical Councils of Chalcedon (in 451) and Trullo (in 692) approved the idea that politically independent and autonomous countries should have their own autonomous Orthodox Churches. In 1219, Saint Sava achieved the unification and administrative organisation of the Serbs into the autocephalous (meaning having its own head) Serbian Orthodox Archbishopric. Saint Sava was chosen as the first Serbian archbishop with monastery Zica as the seat. In 1346 the Serbian archbishopric was elevated to the rank of patriarchate.