The dictionary describes or defines "Congregation" as an aggregate, or gathering, particularly of people; then more specifically a gathering of people in worship either in the Roman Catholic denomination or protestant.
At the time of the Great Reformation a large number of people rebelled at restrictions and some ritual, these people separated from the Roman Catholic denomination; the Reformation developed into 3 distinct groups; Anglicanism, Puritanism, and Separatism.
The Anglicans adhered to the Old English Church with the exception of its papal characteristics; the Puritans favored a purification but were opposed to a drastic separation fro the established church. The 3d group, the Separatists believed in separating entirely from the parent church, and from this group was formed one governed by each congregation or local body.
With John Robertson as pastor the latter group, or many of them, moved to Leyden in Holland in 1611. The stayed a few years, but not wishing their children to grow up as Hollanders, migrated to the New Lands in 1620.
They were followed shortly by a new group of Puritans, gradually the 2 groups became more alike and joined together to become one, the Congregationalists. The worship spread throughout the New England colonies and many other parts of the New World. In 1640 all but 2 of the 33 churches in New England were of the Congregational type. (Whatever that means.)
In 1931 The Christian Church united with the Congregational church. I might mention that is true of the Christian Churches in the East, but many out west still continue in their own denomination.
Many of the Protestant denominations joined together in Missionary work, under the imposing title of the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions (1810). Gradually some withdrew, sending their missionaries out under their own title, so the board became largely a Congregational body. Working alongside it is the Congregational Home Missionary Society, assisting work in the home land.
The church body has always been interested in educational work; many colleges were started by the church - Harvard, Yale, Willams, Dartmouth, to name a few.
Now, locally, we have always been able to work with other churches in the community, especially the Methodist church.
In 1905, a group of people decided we needed a Congregational Church here, so a committee met in a room loaned by the Methodist church and formed a new Congregational Church. According to Miss Blanch Shannahan, there was 1 Church, but the town was plentifully supplied with saloons, somewhere I heard 13, maybe it was 30, so we could stand another church.
We have never been a large congregation; but we trust we have made a small imprint on the locality. Some of the men wondered what the ladies did with all the money they earned at the annual sales - so at our anual church meeting this last January, Jeane Simon, the treasurer of the women's group, read the list of gifts and donations - for the First Ave. Service Center in Seattle, to assist the 7th Day Adventist people in their splendid work locally with the Food Bank, assisting the church itself in its work; and many, many other programs.
Congregationalism means that the church is governed by the group itself, locally - not by a distant board or set of regents.