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Missionary Spotlight – Christianity in Serbia

April 2008 | by Kristian Kahrs

Christianity in Serbia

 

Serbia accepted Eastern Christianity in the 12th century AD for political reasons. The epic battle of Kosovo in 1389 influenced the spread of Christianity in the region – although the Serbs lost the battle, it slowed down Turkey’s attempts to islamise Europe.

 

While the Ottoman Empire held sway (1300-1922), the Serbian Orthodox Church protected Serbian culture from Islam. However, some living in today’s Bosnia, Kosovo and Albania supported the Turks, and their communities are now primarily Muslim.

     Fifty years after the Protestant Reformation in Germany, the first Lutheran church was established in northern Serbia. Other Protestant missionaries arrived here in the late 18th and early 19th centuries.

     The first Evangelical churches appeared in Vojvodina in northern Serbia, primarily among Hungarian and Slovak immigrants. By World War I, several evangelical churches had been established. Also a group of evangelical Christians in Belgrade were meeting together.

     In the second half of the 20th century a man with links to the Scottish royal family – Francis Harford MacKenzie (1933-95) – moved to Serbia. He started the first Protestant church in Belgrade, and encouraged the translation of the Bible into Serbian. He was a great help to the believers.

     Before the Second World War, there was a revival in the Nazarene church. After this the Communists came to power and Christian work was restricted. Christian discipleship in Serbia became difficult, although the Serbian church did not suffer as much as other churches in the eastern bloc.

     Between 1950 and 1980 Evangelical churches were established in most of the major cities of Serbia.

Kristian Kahrs

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Serbia