An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church

A - Z Glossary

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(Aug. 27, 1817-Mar. 11, 1892). Leading evangelical theologian and the third Bishop of Ohio. He was born in Hudson, New York, and attended William Augustus Muhlenberg's famous school at Flushing, New York. He graduated from Bristol College, Pennsylvania, in 1836 and from Virginia Theological... Read More »

(Oct. 28, 1783-Aug. 30, 1834). A leading evangelical preacher, who wrote several poems and musical compositions. He was born in Fresh Kill, Staten Island, New York, and educated at the Episcopal Academy, Cheshire, Connecticut. He graduated from Columbia College in 1811 and then studied for the... Read More »

(Mar. 19, 1875-Jan. 8, 1969). Missionary among indigenous peoples. She was born in Buffalo, New York, and graduated from the State Normal School in Buffalo in 1894. She taught in the Buffalo public schools, and then studied at the New York Training School for Deaconesses. In Dec. 1907, she began... Read More »

(Sept. 6, 1800-May 12, 1878). Influential advocate of women's concerns. She was born in East Hampton, Long Island, New York, and was raised a Presbyterian. She was a daughter of Lyman Beecher, a leading clergyman who served Presbyterian and Congregational churches. Later in life she rejected... Read More »

A term describing the practice of baptizing only those who consciously and knowingly affirm their faith in Christ. The practice normally requires prior instruction and precludes infant baptism. In contrast, the Episcopal Church allows infants and younger children to be presented for baptism by... Read More »

(Oct. 13, 1886-Sept. 5, 1958). A leading American educator. He was born in Dayton, Ohio. Bell received his B.A. from the University of Chicago in 1907 and his S.T.B. from the Western Theological Seminary in 1912. He was ordained deacon on May 29, 1910, and priest on Dec. 18, 1910. From 1910 until... Read More »

(Apr. 1, 1881-Apr. 6, 1933). Theologian and Seminary Professor. He was born in Augusta County, Virginia. Bell received his B.A. from Hampden-Sydney College in 1900 and his M.Div. from the Virginia Theological Seminary in 1905. He was ordained deacon on June 16, 1905, and priest on Feb. 4, 1906.... Read More »

" Colloquial term for the elaborate ritual style common in many Anglo-catholic parishes. In this expression, "bells" refers to the ringing of bells at various points during the eucharist. "Smells" refers to the use of incense. This term is used pejoratively by some, playfully by others.

See Esse, Bene Esse, Plene Esse.

Canticle from the Apocryphal book, Song of the Three Young Men, verses 35-65. It is also known as the "Benedicite." It appears as Canticles 1 and 12 in the BCP (pp. 47-49, 88-90) and has been used at the morning office since the fourth century. The Benedicite is a continuation of the canticle... Read More »

(c. 480-c. 547). The "Patriarch of Western Monasticism." He was born in Nursia in Umbria, Italy, and then educated at Rome. He did not like the degenerate life of the city, and withdrew to the country, where he lived as a hermit in a cave at Subiaco. Gradually a community grew up around him.... Read More »

Shaped by the Rule of St. Benedict (c. 540), Benedictine spirituality is essentially monastic. It focuses on the desire to seek God under the guidance of an abbot. The abbot was originally elected for life. The monks' chief work (opus Dei) is the praise of God, in the form of a community... Read More »

A blessing pronounced by a bishop or priest at the conclusion of a worship service. In a general sense, it may refer to any prayer that closes a meeting or gathering. See Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament.

A service of devotion to the Blessed Sacrament. In this service a large Host is placed in the luna of a monstrance on the altar so that the Host is visible to the congregation. The Host is censed while it is in the monstrance and used to bless the congregation by making the sign of the cross over... Read More »

See Benedictus Dominus Deus.

Canticle based on Zechariah's hymn of thanksgiving at the circumcision of his son, John the Baptist (Lk 1:68-79). The hymn blesses God "who has come to his people and set them free," and celebrates the prophetic ministry that John the Baptist will have as forerunner of the Messiah. It is also... Read More »

Canticle based on the Apocryphal Song of the Three Young Men, verses 29-34. The canticle offers glory and praise to God, and concludes with a doxology. It is also known as "A Song of Praise." It appears as Canticles 2 and 13 in the BCP (pp. 49, 90). It is recommended for use in the Daily Office on... Read More »

The anthem "Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord. Hosanna in the highest," which follows the Sanctus in the eucharistic prayer. It may be sung or said. The term is from the Latin first words of the anthem. It is included in all Rite 2 eucharistic prayers of the BCP, and it is optional in... Read More »

(Oct. 28, 1917-Nov. 1, 1991). The "father of charismatic renewal in the Episcopal Church." He was born in London, England. His family moved to the United States when he was ten years old. He graduated from San Jose State College in 1944. Two years later he entered the University of Chicago Divinity... Read More »

(July 6, 1824-Jan. 14, 1915). A founder of the Society of St. John the Evangelist. He was born in London. Benson received the M.A. at Christ Church, Oxford, in 1849. He was ordained deacon in 1848 and priest in 1849. In 1850 he became vicar of Cowley, two miles from Oxford. A sermon preached by... Read More »

The Hebrew word for blessings. Typically, they begin, "Blessed are you, Lord our God, King of the universe," followed by naming that for which God is blessed, such as "who brings forth bread from the earth." Scholars distinguish between berakoth and hodayoth prayers. The latter begin, "We give you... Read More »

One of eleven Episcopal seminaries in the U.S. It was founded by Bishop John Williams of Connecticut. It began in 1849 as the theological department of Trinity College, Hartford, and opened as a divinity school on Oct. 2, 1854, at Middletown. In 1928 it moved to New Haven and was affiliated with... Read More »

(Mar. 12, 1684-Jan. 12, 1753). Priest and educator. He was born in Kilcrin, near Thomastown, Kilkenny, Ireland, and educated at Trinity College, Dublin. He was ordained in 1707, and in 1724 he became dean of Derry, where he became very interested in supporting the churches in colonial America and... Read More »

(1606-July 9, 1677). Colonial governor of Virginia. He was born in or near London and educated at Queen's College and Merton College, Oxford University. He was governor of Virginia from 1642 until 1652, when he was forced out of office during the interregnum. When the English monarchy was... Read More »

(1090-Aug. 20, 1153). Influential monk who was called the "Pope maker" and "the uncrowned emperor of Europe." He was born in Fontaines, France, and entered the Cistercian monastery at Citeaux, France, in 1113. In 1115 he established a Cistercian monastery at Clairvaux and became its abbot. In 1130... Read More »

(Oct. 7, 1866-Feb. 27, 1942). Founder of Berry College. She was born and grew up at Oak Hill, a cotton plantation near Rome, Georgia. She inherited a substantial estate in her early twenties when her father died. In the 1890s she started a Sunday School in the Blue Ridge mountains north of Rome,... Read More »

On Feb. 2, 1861, the Kansas legislature granted a charter for "The Episcopal Female Seminary of Topeka." On June 10, 1861, the school opened with thirty-three students. On July 9, 1872, Bishop Thomas Hubbard Vail obtained a new charter which changed the name to the College of the Sisters of Bethany... Read More »

The General Convention of 1871 voted to divide the Diocese of Pennsylvania. On Nov. 8-10, 1871, the primary convention of the Diocese of Central Pennsylvania met at St. Stephen's Church, Harrisburg. The 1904 General Convention voted to divide the diocese again. On May 26, 1909, the name was... Read More »

A free and faithful promise of future marriage between two persons. It was an ancient Roman custom for a man to give a woman a ring as a sign of betrothal. The usefulness of betrothal was associated with prenuptial arrangements involving the couple and their families, such as dowry. Mary was... Read More »

It was founded on Nov. 4, 1824, by Bishop Philander Chase and the Diocese of Ohio as "The Theological Seminary of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the Diocese of Ohio." It was incorporated by the Ohio State Assembly on Dec. 29, 1824, and opened at Worthington. In 1828 it moved to Gambier as... Read More »

Holy Scriptures of the OT and NT, written under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, containing all things necessary to salvation. The OT reveals God's mighty acts in creation, the deliverance of the people of Israel from bondage in Egypt, and the making of the old covenant with the chosen people... Read More »

An informal intercessory prayer, covering a wide variety of concerns such as the church, the state, the living and the dead, and public and private necessities. It followed the sermon and the dismissal of the catechumens in the early church. The celebrant bid a particular intention of prayer, and... Read More »

A stand or frame on which a corpse, or a coffin containing a corpse, rests during the burial rite. A bier may also be used to carry the corpse or coffin into the church building and to the grave.

Ecumenical dialogues that are held between two churches ("two-sided"), rather than "multilateral" or between many churches. Typically, each of the two churches appoints about ten representatives to the dialogue, and it meets once or twice a year to consider past disagreements and seek ways toward... Read More »

The ethics of life. As a field of study bioethics has expanded from an initial focus on medicine and health care to a focus on life itself. It includes both the goods of human life and the goods of the natural order. Bioethics was initially shaped by the discipline of ethics but has come to include... Read More »

Stiff, brimless, three- or four-sided cap worn by clergy on ceremonial occasions. It is black if worn by a priest, and purple if worn by a bishop. The biretta may be ornamented by a pompon. It is rarely used in the Episcopal Church, except in some parishes with an Anglo-catholic piety.


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.