As the ELCA regional representative for Europe, I often visit places where few people expect to find Lutheran churches. One such place is Stara Pazova, a municipality in Vojvodina, an autonomous province of the Republic of Serbia. It's a unique territory where diverse faith groups live together.
|Women in traditional clothing lead the singing at the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Stara Pazova in Vojvodina, Serbia.|
Conquered in 1526 by the Ottoman Turks, the territory changed hands in 1699 when the Habsburg monarchy captured the land. The staunchly Roman Catholic Austrians wanted to prevent the Turks from reclaiming the area, so they opened the land to Protestants.
These newcomers included Slovak Lutherans, who in 1770 left the Tatra Mountains of Upper Hungary to begin a new life along the Turkish-Austrian border, where they could freely express their faith. They established the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Stara Pazova, the first Slovak Lutheran congregation in Vojvodina.
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