An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church

A - Z Glossary

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Slang expression for dioceses in the vicinity of the Great Lakes that were once considered to be characterized by Anglo-catholic practices. The term is derived from the traditional fondness of some Anglo-catholic clergy for wearing birettas. Use of this hat was considered by some to be an emblem of... Read More »

One of the three orders of ordained ministers in the church, bishops are charged with the apostolic work of leading, supervising, and uniting the church. Bishops represent Christ and his church, and they are called to provide Christian vision and leadership for their dioceses. The BCP (p. 855)... Read More »

In some dioceses, Bishop and Council is the group which exercises all powers of the diocesan convention between meetings of the convention. It consists of the bishop; bishop coadjutor, if there is one; bishop suffragan, if there is one; and a designated number of clergy and lay persons. Bishop and... Read More »

Assistant bishop with the right of succession upon the resignation of the diocesan bishop. Before a bishop coadjutor is elected, the diocesan bishop must consent to such an election and state the duties which will be assigned to the bishop coadjutor when duly ordained and consecrated.

A former seminary of the Episcopal Church to train African American men for the ministry. On Oct. 2, 1878, the Virginia Theological Seminary (VTS) opened a branch seminary for Negroes in connection with St. Stephen's Normal and Industrial School, Petersburg, Virginia, under the Rev. Thomas... Read More »

This training house for women church workers was opened in Philadelphia in 1867. Mr. and Mrs. William Welsh of St. Mark's Church, Philadelphia, were the leading founders. It was named after the Rt. Rev. Alonzo Potter, Bishop of Pennsylvania, 1845-1865. The women formed a sisterhood with a... Read More »

Intended predecessor of the Seabury Divinity School. James Lloyd Breck went to Faribault, Minnesota, in 1858, with the desire to establish a university. It was to be called the Bishop Seabury University after the first bishop of the Episcopal Church. It was never realized, but the Seabury Divinity... Read More »

The bishop named to have an official, canonical relationship with a religious order. Each order must designate a Bishop Visitor or Protector, who serves as guardian of the order's constitution and arbiter of last resort for issues of conflict in the community. The Visitor or Protector may be... Read More »

See Crozier, or Crosier.

A bishop authorized to serve a diocese whose own bishop is unable to fulfill that ministry due to disability or judicial sentence. The convention of a diocese may choose a bishop (or bishop coadjutor) of another diocese to take full episcopal authority until the disability or judicial sentence no... Read More »

A presbyter elected to the episcopate but not yet ordained and consecrated. The term may also apply to a person who is already a bishop in one jurisdiction, who has been elected to another jurisdiction, but who has not yet been officially recognized and invested with authority in that diocese.

Bishops also preside at services of Confirmation, Reception, or Reaffirmation. Bishops bless altars and fonts, and the blessing of chalices and patens and church bells are traditionally reserved for the bishop. In the Episcopal Church, diocesan and suffragan bishops are elected by Diocesan... Read More »

The Commission on Evangelism, in July, 1925, made an impassioned report to the National Council concerning evangelism and the church. It called for the Episcopal Church to make evangelism its top priority. It was decided that the initial step in a program of evangelism would take the form of a... Read More »

The custom of observing the two great Prayer Book fast days, Ash Wednesday and Good Friday, by eating no food at all. This was observed as a pious custom by some devout church people in the nineteenth century in imitation of the fasting of the ancient church.

Lesser feasts of the church year. About sixty-seven lesser feasts were added to the calendar of the English Prayer Book in 1567. These lesser feasts became known as black-letter days. They were distinguished from the major feasts which were known as red-letter days. That term reflects the early... Read More »

Name usually given to the "Declaration on Kneeling" that was printed at the end of the rite for Holy Communion in the 1552 BCP. The "Declaration" was understood to deny the real presence in the eucharistic elements. This statement was removed in the 1559 BCP, but replaced in the 1662 BCP in an... Read More »

(c. 1656-Apr. 18, 1743). Commissary to Virginia and Founder of the College of William and Mary. He was born in Scotland. Blair received his M.A. from the University of Edinburgh in 1673. He was ordained in the Church of Scotland in late June or early July, 1679. He moved to England and was ordained... Read More »

(d. 177). She was a virgin slave girl. Blandina was one of forty-eight Christians who were martyred at Lyons, France, during a persecution by the Emperor Marcus Aurelius. Her heroic courage is described in a "Letter of the Churches of Lyons and Vienne," which was preserved by Eusebius in his... Read More »

An expression of contempt for God. A Scottish jurist in the seventeenth century characterized it as "treason against God." The term has been used differently in different eras. Understandings of what constitutes blasphemy have changed with changing sensibilities, social norms, and political... Read More »

The term may indicate the sacrament of the eucharist, or the consecrated eucharistic elements of bread and wine, or the reservation of the consecrated elements. Christ's body and blood are understood to be really present in the consecrated bread and wine. See Eucharistic Adoration. Read More »

l) A sacerdotal pronouncement of God's love and favor, addressed to one or more persons. The BCP prescribes forms of blessing to be used by a bishop or priest prior to the dismissal in Rite 1 eucharistic liturgies. Although no form of blessing is required in the Rite 2 eucharistic liturgies,... Read More »

(Aug. 20, 1856-Oct. 8, 1926). Priest and social reformer. He was born in Constantinople, the son of missionaries. He received his B.A. from Amherst College in 1878 and his B.D. from the Hartford Theological Seminary in 1882. After several years as a Congregationalist minister, he became an... Read More »

In the OT "blood" denotes life, especially the life of a sacrificial animal poured out in death. In the NT it denotes the sacrificial death of Christ inaugurating the new covenant in which the faithful partake in the Lord's Supper (1 Cor 11:25). Blood theology typically concerns the saving... Read More »

(May 27, 1818-Dec. 30, 1894). Social reformer. She was born in Homer, Cortland County, New York. She married Dexter C. Bloomer, editor of the Seneca County Courier. With his encouragement, she began to publish articles in newspapers on moral and social issues. Bloomer was baptized at Trinity... Read More »

See Episcopal Theological School at Claremont (Bloy House).

A book containing reports from boards, committees, and commissions for the General Convention. It is distributed to delegates and other participants prior to General Convention. The first "Blue Book" was published for the sixty-fourth General Convention, Oct. 11-Oct. 29, 1973, which met... Read More »

In 1952 the United Thank Offering appropriated money to purchase a Cessna 170 airplane for Bishop William Gordon of Alaska. The plane was named after the "blue box" that the women used to raise funds for their projects. A replica of a "blue box" was painted on the plane. A year later, a second... Read More »

Also called "mite boxes," these small, blue, cardboard boxes are used to collect funds for the United Thank Offering, sponsored by the Episcopal Church Women. The name was first used at the General Convention of 1925. Mary Abbot Emery, first secretary of the Women's Auxiliary to the Board of... Read More »

The 1898 General Convention changed the name of the Missionary District of Wyoming and Idaho to the Missionary District of Boise. It was in existence until Oct. 10, 1907, when the General Convention formed the Missionary District of Wyoming and the Missionary District of Idaho.

(Feb. 4, 1906-Apr. 9, 1945). Pastor and theologian. He was born in Breslau, Germany. Bonhoeffer began his theological studies at Tübingen University but moved to Berlin University. In 1927 he received the licentiate in theology, summa cum laude, and defended his doctoral dissertation. It was... Read More »

(c. 680-June 5, 754). The "Apostle of Germany," he was born near Crediton in Devonshire, England, and was originally named Winfred. He was educated in abbeys at Exeter and Nursling, near Winchester. Boniface spent most of his life doing missionary work in Frisia, Thuringia, Hesse, and Bavaria. He... Read More »

This agreement grew out of a meeting of representatives of the Old Catholic churches of Holland, Germany, and Switzerland, and of the Church of England, at Bonn, Germany, July 2, 1931. The Bonn Agreement states that 1) Each Communion recognizes the catholicity of the other and maintains its own; 2... Read More »

A shortened form of the title of The Book Annexed to the Report of the Joint Committee on the Book of Common Prayer Appointed by the General Convention of MDCCCLXXX or of The Book Annexed . . . As Modified by the Action of the General Convention of MDCCCLXXXIII. These books were published in 1883... Read More »

Official book of worship of the Episcopal Church. The BCP provides liturgical forms, prayers, and instructions so that all members and orders of the Episcopal Church may appropriately share in common worship. Anglican liturgical piety has been rooted in the Prayer Book tradition since the... Read More »

In 1547, Thomas Cranmer, Archbishop of Canterbury (1533-1556), issued his Book of Homilies. This was a time when many clergy did not want to preach, and when they did, some preached inflammatory sermons. Readings from the Book of Homilies were intended to insure that congregations of the Church of... Read More »

Book of optional services and texts prepared by the Standing Liturgical Commission in response to a directive from the General Convention of 1976 to replace The Book of Offices (third edition, 1960). The services and texts of the BOS are available for "occasional" pastoral and liturgical needs of... Read More »


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.