Metropolitan Christopher (Serbian: Митрополит Христофор; secular name Velimir P. Kovacevich, Serbian: Велимир Ковачевић; December 25, 1928 – August 18, 2010) was metropolitan bishop of Libertyville and Chicago in the Serbian Orthodox Church, he was Primate of Serbian Orthodox Christians in America. He was also the first American-born bishop to serve a diocese of the Serbian Church in North America.
Metropolitan Christopher (Kovacevich) was born in Galveston, Texas in the family of Serbian immigrants (he was the ninth of twelve children). His baptismal and secular name was Velimir Kovacevich. After graduation from high school he attended Nashotah House, an Anglo-Catholic seminary of the Episcopal Church located in Nashotah, Wisconsin and subsequently studied and graduated from St. Sava Serbian Orthodox Seminary in Libertyville, Illinois. He earned a B.A. (Philosophy) and a Master of Letters (History) at the University of Pittsburgh and a Master of Divinity from Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology, Brookline, Massachusetts. He also completed courses and examinations for a doctorate at the Chicago Theological Seminary. Later in life Metropolitan Christopher was awarded a Doctor of Divinity degree, honoris causa, by Nashotah House.
After graduating from St. Sava's Serbian Orthodox Seminary he married the late Milka Kovacevich and afterward was ordained to the diaconate and priesthood in 1951. During his parochial ministry he served Serbian Orthodox parishes in Johnstown, Pittsburgh, and Chicago. While ministering to parishes in the Pennsylvania and Chicago areas, he served as chaplain at four local universities.
Becoming a widower in 1970, he was elevated to the episcopate (i.e. he became a bishop) by the Synod of Bishops of the Serbian Orthodox Church in Belgrade in 1978 and tonsured with the monastic name of Christopher, becoming the first American-born bishop to serve a diocese of the Serbian Church in North America (he was consecrated bishop of the Eastern American diocese, serving in that capacity from 1978 until 1991). Upon the 70th anniversary of the Midwestern Diocese of the Serbian Orthodox Church in the United States in 1991, he was elevated to the rank of Metropolitan, making him the first metropolitan of the newly formed Metropolitanate of Midwestern America, thereby becoming the Primate of the Serbian Orthodox in America. In 2009, during the restructuring of the dioceses in the United States and Canada, the Metropolitanate of Midwestern America became the Metropolitanate of Libertyville-Chicago. In May 2010 he served as secretary of the North American Episcopal Assembly of the Orthodox Church.
Metropolitan Christopher also frequently returned to the city of his birth to preside at weddings and baptisms at Saints Constantine and Helen Serbian Orthodox Church.
Metropolitan Christopher died on August 18, 2010 in Libertyville, Illinois, from complications from bone, brain and stomach cancer.
- Turner, B (2010-08-22). "Island native, Serbian Orthodox Church leader dies". Galveston County Daily News. Retrieved 2011-02-25.
- "Obituary: The Most Reverend Metropolitan Christopher". Galveston County Daily News. 2010-08-22. Retrieved 2011-02-25.