ECCLESIA ("convocation'), a popular as sembly, especially that of Athens, where the people exercised full sovereignty and at which every citizen of 20 years of age was entitled to vote. In early times, the ecclesia met once in each prytanig, a period of 35 days, into which the year was divided. Later they met four times during that period. They were called by the prytanes and presided over by the epistates. Later they were governed by a committee of nine. The people voted either by show of hands or occasionally by ballot, the latter method being by white and black pebbles. Be sides the legislative powers of the assembly, it could make inquisition into the conduct of magistrates, and in turbulent and excited times exercised a power resembling that of impeach ment, as in the cases of Demosthenes and Phocion. The assembly was sometimes sud denly broken up at the occurrence of an un favorable omen, as thunder and lightning, sud den rain or any unusual natural phenomenon.
During the 5th and 4th centuries they met at the Pnyx, and after the 3d century at the market place or theatre. In Sparta, all the citi zens in possession of full civic rights were en titled to take part in the deliberations of the assembly from their 30th year onwards. It was convoked once a month at the full moon. Its business was to accept or reject proposals made by the senate. It made its will known by ac clamation or by separation and actual counting of the parties. The right of bringing forward proposals and speaking in the debates was re served to the kings, the ephors and the senators. The assembly elected the officials and senators to decide on the regal succession, on war and peace, treaties, legislation, etc. The term was also applied to any group acknowledging Christ as their Saviour and Lord. The word thence was adopted by the New Testament writers to designate "church."