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In a technical sense, the term refers to English Protestants who do not conform to the discipline, doctrines, or practices of the established Church of England. In this sense the word was first used in the penal acts following the Restoration in 1660 and the Act of Uniformity of 1662 to describe the places of worship (the "conventicles") of the congregations which separated from the Church of England at that time. Nonconformists are also called "Dissenters," a word first used to describe the "Dissenting Brethren" at the time of the Westminster Assembly of Divines (1643-1647). Nonconformists of different denominations joined together in the Free Church Federal Council and became known as "Free Churchmen." 

Glossary definitions provided courtesy of Church Publishing Incorporated, New York, NY,(All Rights reserved) from "An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church, A User Friendly Reference for Episcopalians," Don S. Armentrout and Robert Boak Slocum, editors.
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