The local church is the smallest unit of a Christian denomination that can perceive all the basic functions of being a church . In the Catholic tradition this is usually the diocese . Correlate terms to the local church are total, world or universal church .
Ecclesiologically , the status of the local church is controversial. In Roman Catholic doctrine, a local church as a particular church (ecclesia particularis) receives its full catholicity only through its fellowship with the universal church, that is, through its juridical connection to the Pope. The Second Vatican Council specifies this teaching insofar as it understands the universal Church to be composed of local churches and says of the local churches: “In them and of them consists the one and only Catholic Church” ( Lumen Gentium 23).
In the Orthodox , Anglican and Old Catholic Churches, priority is given to the local Church. This means that the local Church becomes a realization of the one, holy, catholic and apostolic church of the creed , not only through its fellowship with the universal church .