Serbian True Orthodox Church
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|Serbian True Orthodox Church |
Српска истинска Православна црква
Srpska istinska Pravoslavna crkva
|Classification||Independent Eastern Orthodox|
|Primate||His Grace Bishop Akakije|
|Headquarters||Ralja near Belgrade|
|Independence||1996 (Traditionalist schisms)|
|Separated from||Serbian Orthodox Church|
The Serbian True Orthodox Church (Serbian Cyrillic: Српска истинска Православна црква) is a denomination that separated from the Serbian Orthodox Church in 1996. Its founder and current leader is bishop Akakije. The members refer to themselves as revnitelji ('consistent', 'persistent'); they are informally called ziloti ('zealots') by the public. The church is part of the traditionalist True Orthodoxy movement, a loose group of Orthodox churches which resist ecumenism and other attempts of modernization within the mainstream churches.
The Serbian True Orthodox Church originated in 1990s, when three Serb monks returned from the Esphigmenou Monastery on Mount Athos, a stronghold of Greek Old Calendarists. Among them was Nemanja Stanković, who later took the church name Akakije. In 1996 Akakije returned to Serbia and established a monk community on Fruška Gora mountain, near Nova Ravanica monastery. The movement follows the "old calendarist" doctrines of rejecting all perceived attempts at reform of the church, particularly ecumenism and other contacts with "heretics", baptism by aspersion and acceptance of Gregorian calendar.
As of 2014, the number of followers of the church is estimated to several hundred. In a 2010 interview, hegumenia of Novi Stjenik monastery stated that "there is 350 of us, but the number of sympathizers is much larger".
The relationships of the STOC and the mainstream Serbian Orthodox Church (SOC) have been tense. The SOC considers the members of the church to be "schismatics, fundamentalists and heretics". In an article in Svetosavlje, official magazine of the SOC, bishop Atanasije Jevtić analyzed history and theology of the STOC, refuting their "theological blunders", as he puts it.
Churches and monasteries
In 2007, sisterhood of Stjenik monastery near Čačak refused loyalty to the Serbian Orthodox Church after it signed the Ecumenic Charter agreeing to hold a Great Christian Communion in Niš in 2013. After they were expelled from the monastery, they founded a new one, called "Novi Stjenik", in remote Kučaj mountains in eastern Serbia. In 2010, the monastery had 13 nuns.
Child camp controversy
In August 2014, the Serbian True Orthodox Church organized the second "Holy Lazar Orthodox Youth Camp" on Kučaj mountains, that gathered a number of 12- to 18-year-olds. They came in the focus of Serbian public after it was revealed that the children were taught how to operate air-soft replicas of Kalashnikov rifles, among other military skills. The organizers were criticized of child recruitment and child abuse. Bishop Akakije and Efrosinija, hegumenia of the Novi Stjenik monastery, stated that the camp was organized by a model of similar camps in Russia, as well as scouting camps worldwide, that the children were taught outdoor survival skills and self-defense, and the shooting training was only one day of a 10-day course. The police and the public prosecutor of the city of Bor started an investigation of the case.
- Beoković, Jelena (1 May 2010). "Ko su ziloti, pravoslavni fundamentalisti" [Who are Zealots, Orthodox Fundamentalists]. Politika. Retrieved 5 August 2014.
- "Liturgije u pećini" [Liturgies in a cave]. Večernje Novosti. 14 August 2010.
- "Bishop". Serbian True Orthodox Church official website. Retrieved 6 August 2014.
- Atanasije Jevtić (2004). "Zablude raskolnika, tzv. "Starokalendaraca"" [Blunders of schismatics, aka "Old Calendarists"]. Svetosavlje.
- "Utešiteljevo". Serbian True Orthodox Church official website. Retrieved 6 August 2014.
- "Parohije i manastiri" [Parishes and Monasteries]. Serbian True Orthodox Church official website. Retrieved 6 August 2014.
- "Spavanje u pećinama, sklekovi i "kalašnjikovi": Sekta na Kučajskim planinama sprema decu za rat" (in Serbian). Blic. 3 August 2014. Retrieved 6 August 2014.
- "Igumanija spremna za saslušanje" [Hegumenia ready for hearing] (in Serbian). Vesti. 7 August 2014.
- "Kalašnjikov u ime Hrista" [Kalashnikov in the Name of Christ] (in Serbian). Vesti. 5 August 2014.