1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Congregation

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CONGREGATION (Lat. congregatio, a gathering together, from cum, with, grex, gregis, a flock, herd), an assembly of persons, especially a body of such persons gathered together for religious worship, or the body of persons habitually attending a particular church, hence the basis of that system of religious organization known as Congregationalism (q.v.) Apart from these, the more general meanings of the word, “congregation” is used in the English versions of the Old and New Testaments to translate the Hebrew words ‛ēdāh and kāhāl, the whole community of the Israelites and the assembly of the people. The words “assembly” and “congregation” have been to a certain extent distinguished in the Revised Version, “congregation” being kept for ‛ēdāh and “assembly” for kāhāl. The Septuagint generally translates the first by συναγωγή, the second by ἐκκλησία (see J. H. Selbie, in Hastings’s Dict. of Bible, s.v. “Congregation,” cf. “Assembly,” ib.) In the Roman Church “congregation” is applied to the committees of cardinals into whose hands the administration of the various departments of the church is given (see Curia Romana). The committees of bishops who regulate the business at a general council of the church are also known as “congregations.” In the Roman Church there are several kinds of associations for religious purposes known by the generic name of “congregation”; such are: (1) those branches of a particular order, which, for the stricter practice of the rules of their order, group themselves together under a special form of government and discipline,— thus the Trappists are a congregation of the Cistercians, the monks of Cluny and St Maur are congregations of the Benedictines; (2) communities of religious under a common rule; persons belonging to such communities have either taken no vows, or have not taken “solemn” vows; of the many congregations of this class may be mentioned the Oratorians, the Oblates and the Lazarists; (3) in France religious associations of the laity, male or female, joined together for some religious, charitable or educational purpose (see France: Law and Institutions). Lastly “congregation” in secular usage is applied to two governing bodies at the university of Oxford, viz. the “Ancient House of Congregation,” in whom lies the granting and conferring of degrees, consisting of the vice-chancellor, proctors and “regent masters,” and secondly the “Congregation of the University of Oxford,” created by the University of Oxford Act 1854, and consisting of all members of convocation who are “resident,” i.e. have passed 141 nights within 2 m. of Carfax during the preceding year. All statutes must be passed by this congregation before introduction in convocation, and it alone has the power of amending statutes (see Oxford). At Cambridge University congregation is the term used of the meeting of the senate. In Scottish history, from the fact that the word occurs, in the sense of “church,” frequently in the national covenant of 1537, the name of “congregation” was used of the Reformers. Generally and similarly the title of “lords of the congregation” was given to the signatories of the covenant.