Pristina, Kosovo, June 11, 2021
The feast of the Ascension of the Lord yesterday was a double celebration for the Orthodox faithful in Pristina, the capital of Kosovo, as the Divine Liturgy was celebrated in the Church of Christ the Savior for the first time in more than 20 years.
Together with local clergy and a dozen faithful, His Grace Bishop Teodosije of Raška and Prizren celebrated the church’s first Divine Liturgy since 1998, reports the Metropolis of Montenegro.
After the Liturgy, the Slava rite with the cutting of the Slava cake was served.
The service in the church was the result of prayer, Bp. Teodosije emphasized, and “this is the best we can offer God.”
“We offered God the best we had in our heart, and the Lord receives it upon His Heavenly altar—our sacrifice offered to him. Today’s feast is the joy of Christians,” His Grace said.
“For the first time today, we are celebrating the Slava in this magnificent but unfinished church that our predecessors left us with the task of serving here, praying to God, and completing it,” he continued, expressing hope that the church will become the jewel of the city, like St. Sava’s Cathedral in Belgrade.
The church was built in the 1990s, intended to be the city’s main church. It was bombed after the end of the conflict in 1999, though it suffered no serious damage. British KFOR forces then took over the security of the church. After their withdrawal, the church became a point of controversy, as anti-Orthodox Kosovo politicians and NGOs try to claim the church was illegally constructed on land not belonging to the Serbian Orthodox Church.
However, the church should become a place of peace, love, and harmony, Bp. Teodosije emphasized.
“From this place, we are sending a message of love and peace to everyone, regardless of who these people were and what their intentions were. By serving today in this church, we bear witness to who we are, who we have been, and what we should be in the future. We testify that we will never give up our saints and that they belong to us and are a pledge of our eternal life. Although gathered today in small numbers, we are the seed for some future Christians and some better times when this church will be completed and filled with believers,” His Grace concluded.