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Meetinghouse

MEETINGHOUSE

MEETINGHOUSE. Reserving "church" to designate a covenanted ecclesiastical society, New England Puritans used "meetinghouse" to denote the assembly place used for church services, town meetings, and other public gatherings. Church membership was restricted, but attendance at church services was mandatory. Services included baptisms, sermons, prayers, psalm singing, and funerals for notable persons. Typically a white frame structure, the early square meetinghouse, with a central tower, gave way to an oblong style with an end tower topped by a spire. The pulpit dominated the simple but dignified interior. In much of New England, taxes as well as pew receipts supported the meetinghouses' religious activities. In late colonial times the meetinghouse became a center of revolutionary activities.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Donnelly, Marian C. The New England Meeting Houses of the Seventeenth Century. Middletown, Conn.: Wesleyan University Press, 1968.

Von Rohr, John. The Shaping of American Congregationalism, 16201957. Cleveland, Ohio: Pilgrim Press, 1992.

Louise B.Dunbar/a. r.

See alsoCovenant, Church ; New England Way ; Theocracy in New England .

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meetinghouse

meet·ing·house / ˈmētingˌhous/ (also meet·ing house) • n. a Quaker place of worship. ∎ hist. a Protestant place of worship.

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