church-hpParish History

Saint John the Baptist Serbian Orthodox Cathedral in San Francisco, California
Celebrating 60 Years!  (1954-2014)

“Hands bruised by endless toil at difficult tasks; foreheads and faces wrinkled with worry at the fate of the morrow; hearts heavy and backs aching under the burden of never very prosperous days; yet above all, a never-ending faith and a militant love for Almighty God and His Orthodox Church – that is the story of the children of God in this parish of St. John the Baptist” as written as the introduction in the Consecration Ad Book of September 5, 1954.  

Strangers in this unknown land of America 100 years ago, our forbearers from their peaceful Serbian lands gathered together to preserve their faith in this strange land of freedom.  Above all else, they would keep their Faith by worshipping Almighty God as their forefathers had done centuries before.  They would hand on to their children the precious heritage of the Faith of their Fathers.  They would not fail in this sacred trust as evidenced today.  They are looking down upon us today with tears of joy to see that their love and faith in their church is prospering from generation to generation.  

The dawn of the history of our parish begins with the arrival of the late Right Reverend Father Archimandrite George Kodzic in San Francisco in February of 1919.  He was a young Serbian missionary who made his way through Russia via Vladivostok and Siberia and Japan in order to sail for one of the last remaining bastions of religious freedom, the United States of America.  He was born on May 10, 1880 in Belgrade, Serbia.  He served the Serbian army from August 1914 to March 1918 and was subsequently awarded a decree from His Majesty, King Peter I of the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes, conferring the decoration of St. Sava, third degree.  While doing hard manual labor and living the difficult life of a missionary, Archimandrite Kodzic persevered in his dream by laying the foundation for this parish: The building of a Serbian Orthodox Church in San Francisco.  On March 1, 1937, he applied his meager funds to the purchase of a small house at 281 Castro Street, which was eventually converted to a missionary home and chapel, which served the Serbian community of San Francisco as a place of worship until September 5, 1954.  Easter Sunday – May 2, 1937 – witnessed the first divine liturgy.  Despite his failing health, he continued his unselfish devotion to his flock and in January of 1938 mandated the organization of the mission’s auxiliaries, the Brotherhood of Sts. Cyril and Methodious and the Sisterhood of St. Sophia and her martyred children, Faith, Hope, and Love.  It was his clear vision that anticipated the support and dedication of these two organizations, whose work on behalf of the church continues to the present day.  Archimandrite Kodzic died on March 10, 1945, but the remembrance of him and his selfless deeds will remain forever in this Serbian colony.  He bequeathed the missionary home and all his worldly possessions to the parish of St. John the Baptist.  

Our church charter was granted on June 4, 1945 to the Serbian Orthodox Congregation of St. John the Baptist in the City and County of San Francisco, with the Brotherhood then becoming the actual membership of the church and the Sisterhood continuing in its role of auxiliary.  At that time, the late Right Reverend Father Archimandrite Dositei Obradovich became first parish priest, who implemented the rigorous fund-raising campaign which was instrumental in the building of our present church.  Those who worked with him remember his encouraging words when the zeal of the fund-raisers was at its lowest ebb, “No matter how humble the beginning, God will provide.”  The golden age in the history of our parish begins with the unanimous approval and decision of the membership on July 2, 1953, along with God’s help, to erect a new church.  The ground-breaking ceremony took place on August 2, 1953 and construction began shortly thereafter.  However, the greatest of all days in the history of this humble parish is the day of September 5, 1954 when our church was consecrated to God.   

His Grace, the late Bishop Dionisije consecrated church with visiting clergy from the entire western region.  On that same day, Father Dositei was elevated to the rank of Archimandrite.  The church mortgage was retired on July 31, 1961 with a jubilant congregation thanking God in celebration.  

Right Reverend Father Archimandrite Dositei Obradovich was succeeded by the late Reverend Father Svetozar Djuranovich, who served our parish from 1958 to 1964, at which time Protojerej Stavrofor Dusan Bunjevic became our parish preist. Under Father’s spiritual leadership, many special events took place in our parish.  One in particular to remember is the construction of our parish home, which was dedicated to the glory of God on June 4, 1966, and with the unremitting labors of the parishioners and sisterhood, the parish home mortgage was liquidated on November 28, 1982.  Another memorable moment in our parish was the visitation of Patriarch Pavle in 1992.  This was the first time in history that a Serbian Patriarch visited our great country.  Because of Patriarch Pavle, we witnessed the unification of our Serbian Orthodox Church.  Other moments include the completion of the beautification of the iconostas, the large hall, and the painting of the frescoes.  Protojerej Stavrofor Dusan Bunjevic retired in 1999 after 36 years as parish priest.  

Protojerej Stavrofor Dusan Bunjevic was succeeded by Reverend Father Marko Matic, who continued the path of prosperity and spiritual growth of our parish set on the foundation poured by our forefathers.  The purchase of the property next door to our parish home at 918-920 Baker Street gave us the opportunity to continue the never-ending faith, love and hope of our Serbian Orthodox Church.  Fr. Marko served our parish until February 2007. In 2007 by the decision of His Grace Bishop Longin, our church was elevated to the rank of the Cathedral.  

Reverend Father Marko Matic was succeeded by our current parish priest, Protojerej Djurica Gordic, who has dedicated himself to continue the prosperity of our parish through his never-ending dedication.  A special moment in our church’s history is the complete administrative unity of the Serbian Orthodox Church in North and South America which occurred in May 2009.

Contact Us

St. John the Baptist 
Serbian Orthodox Cathedral
900 Baker Street, San Francisco, CA 94115
Phone:(415) 567-5869
Fax: (415) 567-5855




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