Meeting house

A meeting house (meetinghouse,[1] meeting-house[2]) is a building where religious and sometimes public meetings take place.

The Town House of the small Vermont town of Marlboro was built in 1822 to be used for Town Meetings, which had previously been held in private homes. It is still in use today. Nearby is an example of a religious building called a "meeting house", the Marlboro Meeting House Congregational Church.


Nonconformist Protestant denominations distinguish between a

  • church, which is a body of people who believe in Christ, and;
  • meeting house or chapel, which is a building where the church meets.[3][4]

In early Methodism, meeting houses were typically called preaching houses (to distinguish it from a church house), which hosted itinerant preachers.[5]

Meeting houses in AmericaEdit

Old Town Friends Meetinghouse in Baltimore

The colonial meeting house in America was typically the first public building built as new villages sprang up. A meeting-house had a dual purpose as a place of worship and for public discourse, but sometimes only for "...the service of God."[6] As the towns grew and the separation of church and state in the United States matured the buildings which were used as the seat of local government were called a town-house[7] or town-hall.[8]

A meeting house of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Uruguaiana, Brazil, used for weekly services.

The nonconformist meeting houses generally do not have steeples, with the term "steeplehouses" being used to describe traditional or establishment religious buildings.[9] Christian denominations which use the term "meeting house" to refer to the building in which they hold their worship include:

The meeting house in EnglandEdit

In England, a meeting house is distinguished from a church or cathedral by being a place of worship for dissenters or nonconformists.[14]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Meeting house" in Merriam-Webster Dictionary
  2. ^ Oxford English Dictionary Second Edition on CD-ROM (v. 4.0) Oxford University Press, 2009
  3. ^ Wakeling, Christopher (August 2016). "Nonconformist Places of Worship: Introductions to Heritage Assets". Historic England. Archived from the original on 28 March 2017. Retrieved 28 March 2017.
  4. ^ Jones, Anthony (1996). Welsh Chapels. National Museum Wales. ISBN 9780750911627. Retrieved 28 March 2017.
  5. ^ Samuel J, Rogal (January 2006). "Legalizing Methodism: John Wesley's Deed of Declaration and the Language of the Law" (PDF). Methodist History. 44 (2): 105–114. Retrieved 30 January 2022 – via United Methodist Church General Commission on Archives and History.
  6. ^ Sweeney, Kevin M.. "Meetinghouses, Town Houses, And Churches: Changing Perceptions Of Sacred And Secular Space In Southern New England, 1720–1850." Winterthur Portfolio 28.1 (1993): 59. 1. Print. JSTOR 1181498
  7. ^ Sewall, J. B. "The New England Town-house", The Bay State Monthly, Vol 1, No 5. 1884. 284–290. Print. Accessed 12/6/2013
  8. ^ Whitney, William D. (ed.) The Century Dictionary vol. 8. 1895. 6407. Print. Town-house may also mean a jail, poor-house, or house not in the countryside. See Century Dictionary
  9. ^ Quaker Spirituality: Selected Writings. HarperCollins. 2005. p. 18. ISBN 9780060578725.
  10. ^ Hamilton, C. Mark (1992), "Meetinghouse", in Ludlow, Daniel H (ed.), Encyclopedia of Mormonism, New York: Macmillan Publishing, pp. 876–878, ISBN 0-02-879602-0, OCLC 24502140
  11. ^ Seymour, Nicole (March 2006), "Standardized Meetinghouses Give a Place for More Members to Meet and Worship", Ensign, retrieved 2012-10-10
  12. ^ "Of Chapels and Temples: Explaining Mormon Worship Services" (News Release), Newsroom, LDS Church, 15 November 2007, retrieved 2012-10-10
  13. ^ "Topics and Background: Templaes", Newsroom, LDS Church, 17 September 2012, retrieved 2012-10-10
  14. ^ Oxford English Dictionary Second Edition on CD-ROM (v. 4.0) © Oxford University Press 2009


  • Congdon, Herbert Wheaton. Old Vermont Houses 1763–1850. William L. Bauhan: 1940, 1973. ISBN 978-0-87233-001-6.
  • Duffy, John J., et al. Vermont: An Illustrated History. American Historical Press: 2000. ISBN 978-1-892724-08-3.