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ecclesiaa term referring to a universal church, e.g. the Roman Catholic Church, in place of the more generic term CHURCH. See also CHURCH-SECT TYPOLOGY.
the most common name for the popular assembly in ancient Greece. In the Athens of Pericles (mid-fifth century B.C.) and in other democratic poleis, or city-states, the ecclesia was the highest governmental body. It elected officials and exercised legislative, executive, and judicial power. In oligarchic poleis the authority of the ecclesia was limited by other governmental bodies, such as councils and collegia.
In many poleis, the popular assembly was given a special name; the term apella was used in Sparta, the term agora in Delphi and the cities of Thessaly, and the term alia in Argos, Epidaurus, Gela, and Acragas (present-day Agrigento). Writers of late antiquity used the word “ecclesia” to refer to the place where a popular assembly was held.
In Christian writings, “ecclesia” may mean either the community of believers or the church as a whole.