Church Congress is an annual meeting of members of the Church of England, lay and clerical, to discuss matters religious, moral or social, in which the church is interested. It has no legislative authority, and there is no voting on the questions discussed.
The first congress was held in 1861 in the hall of Kings College, Cambridge, and was the outcome of the revival of convocation in 1852. From 1879 the congress included an Ecclesiastical and Educational Art Exhibition.
The congress is under the presidency of the bishop in whose diocese it happens to be held. The meetings of the congress have been mainly remarkable as illustrating the wide divergences of opinion and practice in the Church of England, no less than the broad spirit of tolerance which has made this possible and honorably differentiates these meetings from so many ecclesiastical assemblies of the past. The congress of 1908 was especially distinguished, not only for the expression of diametrically opposed views on such questions as the sacrifice of the mass or the higher criticism, but for the very large proportion of time given to the discussion of the attitude of the Church towards socialism and kindred subjects.
Historical places of meeting are:
- Illustrated Guide to the Church Congress and Ecclesiastical Art Exhibition, Nottingham. 1897. p.164