Information Service of
the Serbian Orthodox Church

September 28, 2004


On the occasion of the ten-year anniversary in office of Bishop Ignjatije of Branicevo, a Theological Symposium was held in Pozarevac from September 24-27, 2004, which brought together several eminent contemporary theologians.

The Diocese of Branicevo was proud to host His Eminence Metropolitan Joannis Zizioulas of Pergamum, Professor Dr. Stavros Jagazoglu and the Very Reverend Abbot Simeon of the monastery in Drama, Greece, as envoys of His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople, as well as His Eminence Metropolitan Kyrill of Varna and Veliki Preslav, the representative of His Holiness Patriarch Maksim of Bulgaria.

The symposium began on Friday, September 24, 2004 at 7:00 p.m. in Belgrade with a lecture by Metropolitan Joannis Zizioulas of Pergamum on the theme “Ontology and Ethics”. Metropolitan Joannis was welcomed before the overflowing amphitheater of the Theological Faculty before the lecture on behalf of the students and professors by the Dean, Protopresbyter Dr. Vladan Perisic.

[Coming soon-1]

On Saturday, September 25, 2004, the Theological Symposium continued at 11:00 a.m. in Pozarevac. Protopresbyter-Stavrophor Dr. Radomir Milosevic from Smederevo described the life of Bishop Ignjatije prior to his consecration, and then reviewed his archpastoral work in the Diocese of Branicevo.

[Coming soon-2]

Father Radomir Milosevic was followed by a lecture on the relationship and differences between Western and Eastern ecclesiology delivered by Professor Stavros Jagazoglu, who emphasized the importance of eucharistic-episcopal ecclesiology without underestimating the so-called therapeutic dimension of Christianity. The role of the bishop in the diocese should be of primal importance to every faithful person. The so-called healing theology came to Orthodoxy from the West and in essence does not belong to the authentic Orthodox experience of Christianity. Mr. Jagazoglu also addressed the problem of secularism, underscoring that today borders between the East and the West to not exist. He emphasized with great respect the figure of Protopresbyter Georgiy Florovski, who influenced contemporary Greek theologians, as well as our leader of theology, Father Justin Popovic, who is also known in Greek theological circles. Nevertheless, he gave the highest recognition in the area of ecclesiology to His Eminence the Metropolitan of Pergamum. He addressed words of high praise to Bishop Ignjatije of Branicevo, emphasizing that he, too, has already made and continues to make his mark on ecumenical Orthodox theology.

At 5:30 p.m. Metropolitan Joannis Zizioulas of Pergamum held a lecture on the office of bishop in the life of the Church. He emphasized that a bishop is not just an administrator who takes care of his diocese, as has become commonly accepted in our modern church reality. As well, the office of bishop is not just the office of a spiritual leader whose job it is to serve certain problems among his faithful but, first and foremost, the liturgical practice confirmed by the great Holy Fathers, from St. Ignatios to the Cappadocians and St. Maxim the Confessor and all the way to St. Gregory Palamas, that the figure of the bishop is one that unites the disunited, and thus expresses the iconicity of the eschatological banquet of the Kingdom of God. The Metropolitan also emphasized the importance of hierarchical structure in the Church, and the community as the essential element of the Church.

Metropolitan Joannis then answered questions from the audience regarding personality, regarding the Orthodox concept of marriage and the eschatological understanding of marriage, and regarding the liturgical practice of giving communion to priests.

His Eminence Metropolitan Joannis Zizioulas of Pergamum served Holy Hierarchal Liturgy on Sunday, September 26, 2004 in Pozarevac in the cathedral of Holy Archangels Michael and Gabriel, starting at 9:00 a.m. Concelebrating in the Holy Liturgy were Metropolitan Kirill of Varna, Bishop Pahomije of Vranje and Bishop Ignjatije of Branicevo, and many priests and deacons of the Diocese of Branicevo. Metropolitan Kirill delivered the sermon and at the conclusion Metropolitan Joannis conveyed the greetings of His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople. He then emphasized that the office of bishop connects all local Churches, and that the bishop together with his priests and faithful represents the community of all local Churches. There are no divisions within the framework of the Diocese or Church; thus, the Church is realized as the Body of Christ in the bishop. Metropolitan Joannis then presented Bishop Ignjatije with a panagia and a cross, the gift of His All-Holiness Patriarch Bartholomew, and Metropolitan Kirill presented Bishop Ignjatije with an Icon of the Most Holy Theotokos.

After Holy Liturgy a formal luncheon was prepared for all those who gathered in the church.


In Banja Luka on September 26, 2004 the first Holy Liturgy was served in the restored church of Christ the Savior, built on the foundation if a church destroyed by the government of the Independent State of Croatia in 1941. In this most sublime, prayerful manner, the completion of construction work on this beautiful church. The new church was built with a three layer wall: brick, concrete and rock, as well as from red and yellow travertine, the most durable and precious stone which is imported from Mesopotamia. This is the first Serbian church with gold-plated cupolas.

Holy Hierarchal Liturgy was presided over by His Eminence Metropolitan Nikolaj of Dabro-Bosnia with the concelebration of His Grace Bishop Jefrem of Banja Luka, His Eminence Metropolitan Jovan of Veles and Povardarje, the patriarchal exarch of the Autonomous Archdiocese of Ochrid, His Grace Bishop Lukijan of Osijek Polje and Baranja, His Grace Bishop Sava of Slavonia, His Grace Bishop Fotije of Dalmatia, His Grace Bishop Gerasim of Gornji Karlovac, and His Grace Bishop Maksim of Hum.

The first church of Banja Luka Serbs from the Turkish period was a small church dedicated to the Holy Trinity. After the Rebellion of 1875, it was burned down and destroyed. In the year 1878 with the annexation of Bosnia and Herzegovina by Austro-Hungary the Serbs gathered the building materials; however, the first act of the new occupying forces upon arrival was to confiscate all the material from the Serbs and build themselves a garrison (today the Bosanska Krajina Archive). In 1879 the first small church was built. The foundation of the church of the Holy Trinity were placed and consecrated on October 5, 1925 and the church was completed and consecrated on the feast of the Ascension of Our Lord in 1939 by then Metropolitan Dositej of Zagreb and Ljubljana. Called “the beauty from the Balkans”, the church was considered to be the most beautiful of the Serbian Orthodox Church. On April 12, 1941 Banja Luka was bombed and the altar (sanctuary) apsid was damaged. Stone by stone and brick by brick, Serbs, Jews and Roma were forced by the Ustashe (Croatian Nazis) to destroy the church and clear the site. The Communists prohibited the rebuilding of churches in Banja Luka and for twenty-five years the city had no church. Holy Liturgy was served in the chapel of the Bishop’s residence. For his determined efforts to rebuild the church His Grace Bishop Vasilije Kostic of Banja Luka was condemned as an enemy of the state, and in August 28, 1953 he was banished from Banja Luka. In 1992 rebuilding of the church of the Holy Trinity began after the fall of the Communists. On October 17, 1993 His Holiness Serbian Patriarch Pavle consecrated the foundation with about ten of his Bishops, twelve priests and four deacons.

“We have waited more than 60 years for the restoration of this church. Many generations have died in expectation, and those whose faith was not strong lost all hope. The Church sincerely prayed and waited, knowing that a past injustice must one day be righted,” said Bishop Jefrem of Banja Luka. He warmly thanked Republika Srpska President Dragan Cavic, who in addition to his personal contribution demonstrated ongoing interest in the progress of the construction and tried to ensure than the problems that arose were favorably resolved so that work could continue. Bishop Jefrem also thanked successful business leaders and eminent individuals, the Krajina Construction Company, a team of architects and engineers who supervised the work, and all those involved who contributed in any way for the first phase of work on the church to be successfully completed. He also warmly thanked the media for broadcasting the Holy Hierarchal Liturgy and the Jedinstvo (Unity) Choir for making the ceremony more beautiful. Bishop Jefrem noted that when the building and consecration of the church is complete a Monograph will be published that will include not just the history of the first church and its present restoration but also a list of contributors and every donor’s contribution.

[Serbian Translation Services]

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