Church, Benjamin, 1639-1718, New England colonial soldier in King Philip's War, b. Plymouth, Mass. He took a leading part in the Great Swamp Fight (Dec., 1675), W of Kingston, R.I., and finally hunted down and killed Philip in Aug., 1676.
Church, Frederick Edwin, 1826-1900, American landscape painter of the Hudson River school, b. Hartford, Conn., studied with Thomas Cole at Catskill, N.Y. He traveled and painted in North and South America and in Europe and excelled in panoramic scenes. He painted exotic and foreign landscapes as well as the native scenery favored by other members of the school. His large canvases are noted for the accuracy and clarity of the scenery portrayed, and for a crystalline rendering of light that links him to luminism. Notable works include Niagara (1857; Corcoran Gallery, Washington, D.C.) and Heart of the Andes (1859; Metropolitan Mus., New York City).

See studies by G. L. Carr (1981) and F. Kelly (1989).

Church, Sir Richard, 1784-1873, British army officer. After varied service, he organized a Greek regiment to defend (1812-15) the Ionian Islands, and in 1827 he was made generalissimo of the Greek insurgents in the Greek War of Independence. Residing in Greece, he subsequently engaged in politics there and was made (1854) a general in the Greek army.
Church, Richard William, 1815-90, English Anglican clergyman. He was educated at Oxford, where he became a follower of John Henry Newman. As dean of St. Paul's (1871-90) he did much to disseminate High Church doctrine. His book The Oxford Movement (1891) was long the authoritative work on the subject. In 1846 he helped found the Guardian, an Anglican newspaper.

See his life and letters (ed. by his daughter, 1894).

church [probably Gr.,=divine], aggregation of Christian believers. The traditional belief has the church the community of believers, living and dead, headed by Jesus, who founded it in the apostles. This is the doctrine of the mystical body of Christ (Eph. 1.22-23). Some divisions speak of the church militant (the living), the church suffering (the dead in purgatory), and the church triumphant (the saints of heaven). The church is said to be recognizable by four marks (as in the Nicene Creed): it is one (united), holy (producing holy lives), catholic (universal, supranational), and apostolic (having continuity with the apostles). In the Orthodox Eastern Church, the Roman Catholic Church, and the Church of England, crucial importance is attached to the unbroken tradition, as handed down through the Holy Ghost (see apostolic succession); with this doctrine goes the apostolic power to administer grace through the sacraments. Certain men of the Reformation rejected the doctrine of apostolic succession and substituted for the authority of the church the authority of Scripture alone. Protestants generally interpret the oneness of the church in a mystical sense; the true church is held to be invisibly present in all Christian denominations. The ecumenical movement in recent years has stimulated fresh study on the doctrine of the church.
church [Gr. kuriakon=belonging to the Lord], in architecture, a building for Christian worship. The earliest churches date from the late 3d cent.; before then Christians, because of persecutions, worshiped secretly, especially in private houses. In Rome and some other cities Christians worshiped at the martyrs' tombs in the underground cemeteries, or catacombs. The catacomb chapel influenced the furnishing of churches, particularly the crypt. The basilica form came to be standard in Western Europe, while in the East the norm became the square church of Byzantine architecture (see Byzantine art and architecture), derived from the shape of the Greek cross. The interior of the Eastern church is characterized by an image screen (iconostasis) rendering the sanctuary invisible to the lay worshipers, except that the altar may be seen through the doors of the screen. In the West, modifications of the basilica were developed in Romanesque architecture and in Gothic architecture. Renaissance and baroque architecture produced innovations in ecclesiastical design. Western churches in general have an east-west orientation with the altar at the eastern end. In America, Colonial architects developed an austerely beautiful type of spired church, patterned after the works of Christopher Wren and James Gibbs. Churches differ in importance according to their constitution and the position in the hierarchy of their clergy, the cathedral being the bishop's church. See chapel; abbey; Hagia Sophia; Saint Peter's Church; articles on other important churches.

In English usage, Minster is an honorific title attached to certain major medieval churches. Most of the best known were cathedrals in the medieval period, such as York Minster, Lincoln Cathedral and Lichfield Cathedral. Others retaining this title were once collegiate churches, such as Beverley Minster, Ripon Cathedral and Southwell Minster, although the latter two have since been elevated to cathedral status.


The word derives from the Old English "mynster", meaning "monastery", "nunnery", "mother church" or "cathedral", itself derived from the Latin "monasterium", meaning a group of clergy living a communal life. Thus, "minster" could apply to any church whose clergy followed a formal rule: as for example a monastery or a chapter; or simply to a church served by a less formal group of clergy living communally. In the earliest days of the English Church, from the 6th to the 8th centuries, minsters, in their various forms, constituted the only form of Christian insitution with a permanent site, and indeed at the beginning of the period, the only form of permanent collective settlement in a culture where there were no towns or cities; and where kings, nobles and bishops were continually on the move, with their respective retinues, from estate to estate.

Minsters were commonly founded by the king, or by a royal thegn, receiving a royal charter and a corporate endowment of bookland and other customary agricultural rights and entitlements within a broad territory; as well as exemption from certain forms of customary service (especially military). The superior of the minster would generally be from the family of the founder, and its primary purpose was to support the king and the thegn in the regular worship of the divine office; especially through intercession in times of war. Minsters are also said to have been founded, or extensively endowed, in expiation of royal crimes; as for example Minster-in-Thanet. Minsters might acquire pastoral and missionary responsibilities, but initially this appear to have been of secondary importance. In the 9th Century, almost all English minsters suffered severely from the depredations of Viking invaders; and even when a body of clergy continued, any form of regular monastic life typically ceased.

Following the English recovery, in the 10th century, surviving minsters were often refounded in accordance with the new types of collective religious bodies then becoming widespread in Western Europe, as monasteries following the reformed Benedictine rule, or as collegiate church or cathedral chapters following the rule of Chrodegang of Metz. Consequently by the 11th Century, a hierarchy of minsters became apparent; cathedral churches, or head minsters having pre-eminence within a diocese; surviving old minsters being pre-eminent within an area broadly equivalent to an administrative hundred; while newer lesser minsters and field churches were increasingly proliferating on local estates. Of particular importance for these developments, was the royal enforcement in this period of tithe as a compulsory religious levy on arable production. This vastly increased the resources available to support clergy; but at the same time strongly motivated local landowners to found their own local churches, so as to retain tithe income within their own estates. In the 11th and 12th centuries local estate churches, typically served by individual priests, developed into the network of parishes familiar to this day. The old minsters, mostly then became parish churches; their former pre-eminence acknowledged by the occasional retention of the honorific title; and sometimes by the continued recognition of former estate churches within their ancient territories as being, in some degree, of subsidiary status and dignity.

In England, in addition to the cathedrals mentioned previously, the following are large churches, which may have been collegiate before the reformation but are not the seat of a diocesan bishop:

Where a minster subseqently became monastic, the former status may survive in a place name; as in Westminster Abbey, or Leominster Priory. The name "Peterborough Minster" is now applied to a district of Peterborough, but not to Peterborough Cathedral.

The title "Stoke Minster" was conferred on the parish church of St. Peter ad Vincula in Stoke-upon-Trent by The Rt. Revd. Jonathan Gledhill, Bishop of Lichfield, at a ceremony on May 17, 2005, and St Thomas's in Newport, Isle of Wight, was granted a similar title in 2008.

In the case of the Ulm Minster in Germany, the term was used for a particularly prosperous parish church boasting a large number of clergy.

In other places in Europe, “minster” has become simply a historical term for a particular church, e.g. the minsters of Strasbourg (France); Basel and Bern (Switzerland); Bonn Minster, Essen, Freiburg, Aachen, Hamelin, Doberan (all Germany).

See also

  • Munster (disambiguation) for many related place names. Munster is now a succsesful rugby union team (includes Minster, Münster).


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