1648. A statement of Congregational polity for the New England churches. American Puritans wanted to distinguish from the Brownists* or Separatists on one hand, Presbyterians on the other. The General Court of Massachusetts Bay Colony authorized a synod to meet at Cambridge in 1646 to develop statements on doctrine and polity. An epidemic postponed the final statement on polity until 1648. The platform sets forth the theory of the “Catholick Church” as “the whole company of the elect and redeemed.” The visible church comprises those who have a personal knowledge of salvation and whose lives are upright, as well as the children of such. It provides for regular church offices of pastors, teachers, ruling elders, and deacons in an autonomous congregation.