What Is the Difference Between a Chapel and a Church?

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In Christianity, a church is intended to gather all the faithful of a specific denomination together for worship, whereas a chapel serves a more specific population such as a convent, school, prison or hospital. Most military installments and hospitals have a chapel that serves a variety of denominations.

The earliest Christian chapels were often dedicated rooms in the homes of individuals or at sites of martyrs’ memorial. The earliest Christian churches were built in the shape of a cross, with the oldest identified church being the Dura-Europos church, which is estimated to have been founded between 233 and 256 A.D.