Church Congress, a name given to free gatherings of ministers and laymen of the Established Church of England, which since 1861 have annually been held for the purpose of discussing important religious and ecclesiastical questions. The first congress was convoked by a self-constituted committee, which invited men of all theological parties to be present. In order to maintain the neutral character of the Church Congress, no resolutions were to be passed. Although this original plan has been adhered to, the High-Church party has been in an unmistakable ascendency at all the congresses, and the Low- Church party, on that account, in 1866, formed a design (not yet executed) of calling a separate Low-Church Congress. The congresses held from 1861 to 1866 were as follows: 1861, Canterbury; 1862, Oxford; 1863, Manchester; 1864, Bristol; 1865, Norwich; 1866, York. At each of these congresses the bishop of the diocese presided. The attendance in every case was large, and a number of bishops, and prominent clergymen and laymen, took part in the proceedings. A curious difficulty stood in the way of the congress of 1865, which deserves mention, as it shows the relation of the bishops of England to these meetings. When it was resolved by the congress of 1864 (at Bristol) to hold the next one at Norwich, it was understood that the sanction and co-operation of the bishop of that city had been obtained. But this proved to be a mistake; and when the bishop was applied to by the official residuum of the congress, he did not consider the authority of the persons constituting it sufficient to entitle them to his consideration. The request from a public meeting, and a vote taken in the diocese of Norwich on the subject, was deemed no more sufficient. Only when the chapter of Norwich (including the honorary canons) had declared in favor of the congress, the bishop consented to preside. See Rivington's Eccles. Year-book for 1865 (London, 1866. The "Yearbook" gives, at p. 135 to 172, a full account of the Congress of Norwich). The full proceedings of each meeting of the congress have been published in a special report.