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{{#invoke:Hatnote|hatnote}} Congregationalist polity, often known as congregationalism, is a system of church governance in which every local church congregation is independent, ecclesiastically sovereign, or "autonomous". Among those major Protestant Christian traditions that employ congregationalism are those Congregational Churches known by the "Congregationalist" name that descended from the Independent wing of the Anglo-American Puritan movement of the 17th century, Quakerism, the Baptist churches, and most of the groups brought about by the Anabaptist movement in Germany that migrated to the U.S. in the late 18th century. More recent generations have witnessed also a growing number of non-denominational churches, which are most often congregationalist in their governance. In Christianity, congregationalism is distinguished most clearly from episcopal polity, which is governance by a hierarchy of bishops. But it is also distinct from presbyterian polity, in which higher assemblies of congregational representatives can exercise considerable authority over individual congregations.

Congregationalism is not limited only to organization of Christian congregations; the principles of congregationalism have been inherited by the Unitarian Universalist Association and the Canadian Unitarian Council. Jewish synagogues, many Sikh Gurdwaras and most Islamic mosques in the U.S. operate under congregational government, with no hierarchies.


Congregationalist polity sections
Intro  Basic form  Congregational church  Baptist churches  Churches of Christ  See also  Notes  References  

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