St. George Free Serbian Orthodox Church (Forrest, Australian Capital Territory)
St George Free Serbian Orthodox Church in Forrest, Australia, was formed in 1955, experiencing a hiatus between 1963 and 1992. From 1963-1992, a group of former Yugoslav Royal Military officers registered the 'Free Serbian Orthodox Church St George, Inc' organisation with the ACT government. The parishioners acquired land in the suburb of Forrest, built a church building, a hall which they call to this day 'Serbian Centre Draza Mihailovic', and a monument to Cetnik (Royal Yugoslavian Armed Forces) General Dragoljub 'Draza' Mihailovic, the first of its kind anywhere in the world.
The First President of the Church-School Community (in 1955) was Vojislav Miletic, who, together with his wife Jelena, became a major benefactor to St Sava Monastery in Elaine, Victoria.
The interior of the church was painted by Czech artist Karl Matzek in the 1970s and 1980s, primarily in the Western mural style.
During the early 1990’s, the Church was fortunate to be recognised amongst the Australian Capital Territory's Heritage Listed sites and remains a civic icon of Canberra to this day.
In August 2006, Bishop Milutin removed the antimension from the altar of St George's. It is reported that this is due to the church's connection to the Serbian anti-communist freedom fighter Draza Mihailovic: a plaque carrying a dedication to Draza appears at the entrance to the church along side the monument to this Serbian World War hero. At an unknown date, the antimension was replaced.
In 2007, the church was blessed with the restoration of the frescos that line the ceiling and walls. These frescos have become drawn many tourists to Canberra to the church, sharing in the beauty of Serbian Orthodoxy depicted in these fresco’s whilst learning about several significant events that shaped our Serbian Orthodoxy.
In March 2008, Bishop Irinej removed the antimension from the altar for the second time in two years, authorising for chains to bar the main gates. It is reported that this is due to a dispute, variously between the property trustees and/or with the majority of regular parishioners.
Following this dispute, the parish broke away from the Serbian Orthodox Diocese of Australia and New Zealand (New Gracanica Metropolitanate), and has reverted to its original name of St George Free Serbian Orthodox Church.
During 2009, following the prior dispute, the Parish faced the decision to be amalgamated into the newly formed Organisation established by Bishop Irenej or to seek acceptance elsewhere.
The Parish has since been accepted into The Holy Synod in Resistance, Old Calendar Greek Orthodox Church, receiving blessing from the St. Cyprian and Justina Monastery, Greece.
- Fr Dusan Popovic (19??-1963)
- Fr Jakov Jovic (1992-2004)
- Fr Stanisa Ostojic (2004-2006)
- Fr Nikola Bilic (2006-2007)
- Fr Dragan Saracevic (2009-present)