Mother Church

Mother Church

In Christianity, the term mother church or Mother Church may have one of the following meanings:

  1. The first mission church in an area, or a pioneer cathedral
  2. A basilica or cathedral
  3. The main chapel of a province of a religious order
  4. A plantation church — that is, the "mother" of several "daughter churches",
  5. A church of historical importance to a Christian community, including the following:
    1. Mother Bethel A.M.E. Church, the "mother church" of the African Methodist Episcopal Church;
    2. Cathedral of Christ the King[which?], the "mother church" of the Anglo Pentecostal Communion (The Rt. Reverend Steven Smith, Archbishop)
    3. The Mother Church: The First Church of Christ, Scientist (Boston, Massachusetts), the Church of Christ Scientist of which all others are branches;
    4. Greater Refuge Temple Church, the Mother Church of the Church of Our Lord Jesus Christ of the Apostolic Faith; and
    5. The Roman Catholic Church, as the Mother Church of Western Christianity;
    6. The Patriarchate of Constantinople, as Mother Church of Eastern European Orthodox churches
    7. The Church of England, as the Mother Church of the Anglican Communion
  6. The Universal Church or Church Universal, which is the Bride of Christ.
  7. The National Baptist Convention, USA, Inc. which is a Convention of Churches from which the other National Baptist Conventions originate.
  8. The main church or cathedral in the area, with the local churches being its "daughter" churches.[1]
  9. The church where one was baptized, in widely used expressions, such as "my mother church".[2]


First mission church

It is used as a title of distinction for churches established originally as the first mission of a particular region. For example, the Cathedral of Our Lady of Peace in Honolulu, Hawai'i was the site of the first French Catholic mission of the Congregation of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary, from which the modern Hawai'i Catholic Church was established. Under these circumstances it is today considered the mother church of all Hawai'i.

Basilicas and cathedrals

Mother church may also be a title of distinction based on the church's hierarchical importance. For example, among Roman Catholics the ecumenical mother church is the Lateran Basilica. Similarly, the church of the bishop of an episcopal see is often considered the mother church of a diocese. Holy Name Cathedral in Chicago, Illinois falls under this category. While it was not the first Roman Catholic cathedral of the city, it became the mother church due to the presence of the episcopal cathedra. This form of distinction based on hierarchical importance is usually used by the Roman Catholic Church, and, sometimes, the churches of the Anglican Communion, while most Protestant denominations tend to refrain from using the title in this manner. A notable exception is the First Church of Christ, Scientist in Boston, Massachusetts, which is commonly called the "Mother Church".

Chapel of a province

A third form relates to the churches of the various religious orders, royal orders or civic orders. For example, Madonna Della Strada Chapel is the mother church of the Province of Chicago of the Society of Jesus. It is the principal church of the Jesuits in its particular province which includes Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky and Ohio. On a broader scale, the Chiesa del Gesu in Rome is the mother church of all Jesuits throughout the world as it is the church of the order's Superior General.

Plantation churches

A fourth form is mainly used in Protestant churches. A mother church is a local church from which other local churches were planted. These churches are known as daughter churches.

Historically significant churches

The oldest churches of various religious communities are often considered the mother churches to others that follow either in that same tradition or, alternatively, in a reformist tradition. A church's hierarchical importance is often derived from its historical importance in its organization. In addition, in communities where churches may change their ecclesiastical association or become independent (particularly in Pentecostal, charismatic, nondenominational, and independent churches in America), a mother church may have daughter churches in one or more organizations.

The mother church of the African Methodist Episcopal Church

Mother Bethel A.M.E. Church in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania founded in 1794 is the "mother church" of the African Methodist Episcopal Church.

The Mother Church in Christian Science

The Mother Church in Christian Science is The First Church of Christ, Scientist (Boston, Massachusetts), the Church of Christ Scientist of which all others are branches. Per the Manual of The Mother Church, the legal title of the Mother Church is "The First Church of Christ, Scientist," and while its branch church may call themselves, First Church of Christ, Scientist, or Second Church of Christ, Scientist, etc., they are prohibited from using "The" in front of their names. Only The Mother Church can do so.[3]

The Mother Church of the COOLJC

Greater Refuge Temple Church in New York City is the mother church of the Church of Our Lord Jesus Christ of the Apostolic Faith, an Apostolic Pentecostal denomination. As such, it is also ultimately the mother church of its various off-shoot churches and organizations, including both Bible Way organizations and the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ and its daughter churches. In addition, churches that were independently founded by ministers who were ordained or directly influenced by the church's founder, Robert C. Lawson, or his spiritual successor, William L. Bonner, may also look to Greater Refuge Temple as their mother church, including the Progressive Church of Our Lord Jesus Christ, the Evangelistic Church of Christ, and many others.

The Roman Catholic Church

The Roman Catholic Church is thought by some to be the mother church of the Protestant and other churches that broke away from it over time. Prominent among these are Lutheran, Reformed, Anglican churches and other Christian faith communities formed over time from these.

The Church Universal

Additionally, among Catholics, Eastern Orthodox Christians, Anglicans and many other Christian denominations, Mother Church, or Holy Mother Church, is believed to refer to the Universal Church or Church Universal, which is considered to be the Bride of Christ and the Mother of all the Christian faithful regardless of manmade divisions or denominations.

The Mother Church of the National Baptist Conventions

The National Baptist Convention, USA, Inc. is often referred to as the 'Mother Church' among African-American Baptists. This Convention is the oldest and largest of the Conventions and all other National Baptists trace origin to her. Not only do all National Baptists trace origination from the NBCUSA but several large Pentecostal Organizations do as well.


External links

See also

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Mother church — Mother Moth er, a. Received by birth or from ancestors; native, natural; as, mother language; also acting the part, or having the place of a mother; producing others; originating. [1913 Webster] It is the mother falsehood from which all idolatry… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • mother church — noun 1. archaic : a parish church the mother churches … and rural chapels in the late Saxon and early Norman periods Bulletin of Institute of Historical Research 2. : the principal church of a locality or land; specifically : a cathedral or a… …   Useful english dictionary

  • mother church — 1. a church from which other churches have had their origin or derived their authority. 2. a cathedral or a metropolitan church. 3. the church attended in one s youth or for the greater part of one s life. [1275 1325; ME] * * *  designation used… …   Universalium

  • mother-church — …   Useful english dictionary

  • The Destiny of The Mother Church — (1991, ISBN 087510231X) is the primary and theologically disputed work of Bliss Knapp, the son of Ira O. and Flavia S. Knapp, trusted students of Mary Baker Eddy. According to the Introduction to the Twentieth Century Biographers Series published …   Wikipedia

  • Manual of The Mother Church — The Manual of The Mother Church by Mary Baker Eddy is the governing document, or in effect constitution, of the Christian Science Church. The Church Manual or Manual went through 88 revisions during Eddy s lifetime. The 89th edition incorporates… …   Wikipedia

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