One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
The fact or status of belonging to the Christian church, or to a particular denomination or congregation. Later also: the body or number of church members.
Mid 17th century; earliest use found in Simeon Ashe (d. 1662), Church of England clergyman. From church + membership, after church member.
church membership/tʃəːtʃ ˈmɛmbəʃɪp/
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