The church of Saint Sava in Merrillville is a magnificent edifice which attracts great interest. People who see it from a distance are drawn to visit it personally.
Serbian churches are built in any of four architectural types modeled by the Byzantine style. Ours is a likeness of the Oplenac Church in Topola, Serbia, which is the Morava style of architecture. In planning it, we preserved the original model and its general characteristics of style and beauty, with additional attributes more practical to serve the religious needs of an American parish.
The use of steel eliminated the need for interior columns in the nave; the altar and solea areas were expanded, and the Baptismal font and choir loft were placed at the west side.
The south wing houses our smaller haller, while our administrative offices are in the north wing. Handicapped accessible ramps are located at all doors. With minor changes, we strived to maintain the unique beauty of the Oplenac Church design.
For the technically-minded, the church is 100 feet long by 60 feet wide. It seats about 400 persons with room for an additional 100 standing. The entire church complex is 367 feet long. The principal materials are American-made steel manufactured in Lake County, Indiana, Indiana Limestone from Bedford, and Appalachian oak wood throughout.
The concrete foundation ranges from 20 to 36 inches wide, and the church walls are 20 inches thick of solid masonry. The cross on the central cupola rests 97 feet above the ground.
There are five domes above the roof. Each dome represents a point of the cross so that when viewed from the air, the church is a cruciform and the major cupola is at the center. The north and south wings extend from the main line of the building so that the church at its center, a viewer on Mississippi Street may visualize a great host greeting his guests with wide spread arms.
The Gospel teaches that Christ as the Head of the Church calls on us, “Come to me, all of you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:20).