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In this other question a Council was mentioned - Are Orthodox Christians all the same faith?

What is a council? Was it something in the early church? What was its purpose and function?

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up vote 3 down vote accepted

A council is usually a gathering or conference of church (the body of Christ, not the building) leaders (or bishops) which decides on church doctrine and practice.

Wikipedia on Ecumenical councils

Catholic Major Councils of the Church.

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The word isn't limited to churches. – DJClayworth Aug 31 '11 at 16:28
@DJClayworth I am only defining it within the scope of the original question. – a_hardin Aug 31 '11 at 17:03

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