The Serbs migrated to the Balkans during the reign of Byzantine emperor Heraclius (610-641). Unknown to them at the time, the Serbs had settled on both sides of the line of Roman emperor Theodosius I. The region they had settled had for centuries been alternatively under the religious jurisdictions of Rome and Constantinople. The Serbs were converted to Christianity in several waves of, the last major one taking place between 867 and 874 AD.
Finally, most of the Serbs fell under the authority of the Church of Constantinople and had by 1219 acquired a Church of autocephalous status.
Following the arrival of the Ottomans and mass migrations of Serbs to lands under the Catholic Hapsburgs of Austria, a portion of the Eastern Orthodox Serbs were uniatized under pressure, that is converted to Roman Catholicism while maintaining the Eastern Rite. The descendants of some these Serbs, living mostly in Žumberak are under a separate jurisdiction, the Eparchy of Krizevci.
In the 20th century, the Church was favored by the Kingdom of Yugoslavia, but the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia nationalized a large amount of its belongings.
The Yugoslav wars gravely impacted several branches of the Serb Orthodox Church.
Many churches in Croatia were damaged or destroyed since the beginning of the war in that country in 1991. The bishops and priests and most faithful of the eparchies of Zagreb, of Karlovac, of Slavonia and of Dalmatia became refugees. The latter three were almost completely abandoned after the exodus of the Serbs from Croatia in 1995. The eparchy of Dalmatia also had its see temporarily moved to Knin after Republic of Serbian Krajina was established. The eparchy of Slavonia had its see moved from Pakrac to Daruvar.
The eparchies of Bihać-Petrovac, Dabar-Bosnia and Zvornik-Tuzla were also dislocated due to the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The eparchy see of Dabar-Bosnia was temporarily moved to Sokolac, and the see of Zvornik-Tuzla to Bijeljina. Over a hundred Church-owned objects in the Zvornik-Tuzla eparchy were destroyed or damaged during the war. Many monasteries and churches in the Zahumlje eparchy were also destroyed. Numerous faithful from these eparchies also became refugees.
By 1998, the situation stabilized in both countries. Most of the property of the Serb Orthodox Church was again put in normal use, the bishops and priests returned, and that which was destroyed, damaged or vandalized was restored. The process of rebuilding several churches is still under way, notably the cathedral of the Upper Karlovac Eparchy in Karlovac. The return of the SOC faithful also started, but they are not nearly close to their pre-war numbers, as of 2004.
Serbian Orthodox Church is divided into 40 dioceses each headed by its own bishop:
In the Balkans:
- Архиепископија београдско-карловачка (Archbishopric of Belgrade and Sremski Karlovci), with see in Belgrade
- Епархија банатска (Eparchy of Banat), with see in Vršac
- Епархија бањалучка (Eparchy of Banja Luka), with see in Banja Luka
- Епархија бачка (Eparchy of Bačka), with see in Novi Sad
- Епархија бихаћко-петровачка (Eparchy of Bihać and Petrovac), with see in Bosanski Petrovac
- Епархија браничевска (Eparchy of Braničevo), with see in Požarevac
- Епархија будимљанско-никшићка (Eparchy of Budimlje and Niksic, with see in Djurdjevi Stupovi monastery near Berane)
- Епархија врањска (Eparchy of Vranje), with see in Vranje
- Епархија горњокарловачка (Eparchy of upper Karlovac), with see in Karlovac
- Митрополија дабробосанска (Metropolitanate of Dabar Bosnia), with see in Sarajevo
- Епархија далматинска (Eparchy of Dalmatia), with see in Šibenik
- Епархија жичка (Eparchy of Žiča), with see in monastery Žiča near Kraljevo
- Епархија загребачко-љубљанска (Eparchy of Zagreb and Ljubljana), with see in Zagreb
Also encompasses Italy and all of Slovenia.
- Епархија захумско-херцеговачка (Eparchy of Zahumlje and Herzegovina), with see in monastery Tvrdoš near Trebinje
- Епархија зворничко-тузланска (Eparchy of Zvornik and Tuzla), with see in Tuzla
- Епархија милешевска (Eparchy of Mileševa), with see in Mileševa monastery
- Епархија нишка (Eparchy of Niš), with see in Niš
- Епархија осјечкопољска и барањска (Eparchy of Osjecko polje and Baranja), with see in Dalj
- Епархија рашко-призренска (Eparchy of Ras and Prizren), with see in Prizren
- Епархија славонска (Eparchy of Slavonia), with see in Daruvar
- Епархија сремска (Eparchy of Srem), with see in Sremski Karlovci
- Епархија темишварска (Eparchy of Timisoara), with see in Timisoara
- Епархија тимочка (Eparchy of Timok), with see in Zaječar
- Епархија црногорско-приморска (Eparchy of Montenegro and the littoral), with see in Cetinje
- Епархија шабачко-ваљевска (Eparchy of Sabac and Valjevo), with see in Šabac
- Епархија шумадијска (Eparchy of Sumadija), with see in Kragujevac
- Епархија аустралијско-новозеландска (Eparchy of Australia and New Zealand), with see in Elaine
Also encompasses South Africa.
- Епархија Аустралијско-новозеландска Митрополије новограчаничке (Eparchy of Australia and New Zealand of mitropoly of New Gračanica), with see in monastery New Gračanica
- Епархија британско-скандинавска (Eparchy of Britain and Scandinavia), with see in Stockholm
Encompasses parishes in Great Britain, Norway, Sweden and Denmark.
- Епархија будимска (Eparchy of Buda (Budim)), with see in Sentandreja
Encompasses Orthodox Serbs in Hungary, Czech Republic and Slovakia.
- Епархија западноамеричка (Eparchy of West America), with see in Los Angeles
- Епархија западноевропска (Eparchy of West Europe), with see in Paris. Gathers Orthodox Serbs in France, Belgium, Netherlands and Spain
- Епархија источноамеричка (Eparchy of East America), with see in Edgeworth
- Епархија канадска (Eparchy of Canada), with see in Milton monastery
- Епархија новограчаничка за Америку и Канаду (Eparchy of New Gračanica for former schismatic parishes America and Canada), with see in monastery New Gračanica, former Autonomous Serb Orthodox Church in shism with SOC since 1960s until 1992
- Епархија средњоевропска (Eparchy of Central Europe), with see in Himmelstühr monastery. Encompasses Serb Orthodox faithful in Germany, Austria and Switzerland
- Епархија средњезападно-америчка (Eparchy of Midwest America), with see in monastery of Saint Sava in Libertyville, Illinois
Dioceses are further divided into Episcopal Deaneries, each consisting of several Church Congregations and Parishes. Church Congregations consist of one or more Parishes. Parish is the smallest Church unit - a communion of Orthodox faithful congregating at the Holy Eucharist with the parish priest at their head.
- Official website (http://www.serbian-church.net/) (in Serbian and English)
- Office of the External Affairs of the SOC in the US and Canada (http://www.oea.serbian-church.net/)
- List of Serb Orthodox shrines abroad (http://www.serbianorthodoxchurch.com/pages/listing/country/index.html)
- www.svetosavlje.org "Saint Savahood" (in Serbian)
- List of eparchies (http://www.svetosavlje.org/biblioteka/Istorija/SPC05.htm)
- List of saints (http://www.svetosavlje.org/biblioteka/Istorija/SPC06.htm)
- List of church leaders (http://www.svetosavlje.org/biblioteka/Istorija/SPC04.htm)
- Diocese of Raška and Prizren (Kosovo) (http://www.kosovo.com/default1.html)
- Middle European Diocese for Germany, Austria and Switzerland (in German and Serbian) (http://www.serbische-diozese.org/)
- Metropolitanate of Montenegro and Littoral (http://www.mitropolija.cg.yu/aktuelno/index_eng.html)