An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church

A - Z Glossary

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This document of church government was first adopted by the General Convention of the Church in 1789. The Constitution contains regulations for General Convention, election and jurisdiction of bishops, Standing Committees, the formation of new jurisdictions, the establishment of provinces,... Read More »

This quarterly was published from Mar. 1913, until June 1922. Its sub-title was A Journal of the Faith, Work, and Thought of Christendom. It served as a "forum where the isolated Churches of Christendom may introduce themselves to one another." The editor was Silas McBee (1853-1924), a close friend... Read More »

The term means "of the same substance." In Trinitarian theology, one divine substance exists fully and equally, or consubstantially, in three Persons. Bitter controversies arose in early Christianity concerning the divinity of the Son. The councils determined that the fullness of divinity exists... Read More »

Doctrine of the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist associated with the theology of Martin Luther. It teaches that after the consecration the substance of the Body and Blood of Christ and the substance of the bread and wine coexist in union with each other. The doctrine was formulated in... Read More »

A form of mental prayer in which meditation and petition give way to quiet adoration of the mysteries of God. Contemplation is the fruit of divine grace. It comes after a period of recollection and self-abandonment. Daily concerns vanish and exclusive attention is given to the mysteries of the... Read More »

A religious community that is primarily devoted to the contemplative life. The Benedictine Order exists in the Anglican Communion, including St. Gregory's Abbey ("Three Rivers") in the Episcopal Church. Contemplative orders in the Episcopal Church also include the Order of Julian of Norwich in... Read More »

Full repentance for sin and a firm intention for amendment of life. Contrition is motivated by love of God, causing the penitent to regret sin as evidence of a turning away from God who loves us. Contrition has been distinguished from attrition since the twelfth century. Attrition has been referred... Read More »

The term may refer either to a religious community or the building where the community lives. The term is most frequently applied to a community of nuns, although it may refer to a religious community of men or women. The term is from the Latin, con and venire, "to come together."

An experience or process whereby an individual comes to belief in Christ as Savior and Lord. In Protestant Christianity, conversion usually emphasizes an adult experience of sudden or dramatic change. Nevertheless, many Christians are brought to belief in Christ as Lord through a gradual process of... Read More »

The conversion of Paul to Christianity is so important that the story is told three times in Acts, and Paul mentions the experience three times in his letters. An observance of Paul's conversion is mentioned in some calendars from the eighth and ninth centuries. Pope Innocent III (1198-1216)... Read More »

1) In the Episcopal Church, a meeting of clergy and lay representatives from a section or area of a diocese. The term may also indicate the section or area of the diocese that is represented by the assembly. The name may be used by other church gatherings or assemblies. 2) In the Church of England... Read More »

The convocation is under the jurisdiction of the Presiding Bishop. Its history goes back to 1859, when an American Episcopal congregation in Paris, France, was recognized by the Episcopal Church as a parish. Over the years the number of Episcopal parishes in Europe increased. At various times the... Read More »

(Apr. 17, 1813-Dec. 31, 1894). Author and churchwoman. She was born in Heathcote Hill, Mamaroneck, New York, and privately educated. She was the daughter of the novelist James Fenimore Cooper, who wrote The Last of the Mohicans (1826) and The Deerslayer (1841). In 1850 she published Rural Hours,... Read More »

He and his household were the first known Gentile converts to the Christian faith. Cornelius was stationed at Caesarea in Palestine. The story of the conversion and baptism of Cornelius and his household is recorded in Acts 10:1-11:18. Their conversion and baptism served as a precedent in resolving... Read More »

A term stating that Christ is physically present in the consecrated elements of the eucharist. It is not to be confused with the doctrine of the "real presence," which holds that Christ is truly present in the consecrated elements but in a spiritual, nonphysical manner.

  This feast commemorates the institution of the eucharist by Jesus on the night of his betrayal and arrest. It is often associated with a festive procession that follows the celebration of the eucharist. A consecrated host in a monstrance is prominently displayed in this procession. It is... Read More »

(Oct. 25, 1900-Sept. 21, 1994). One of three bishops who first ordained women. He was born in Rochester, Minnesota, and received his B.D. from Nashotah House in 1925. He was ordained deacon on June 1, 1924, and priest on May 21, 1925. He was rector of St. John the Baptist Church, Portage, Wisconsin... Read More »

The House of Bishops created the Missionary District of Costa Rica on Sept. 18, 1967. It was a Missionary District of the Episcopal Church until Sept. 1976, when the General Convention voted to make it an Extra-Provincial Diocese related to Province 9.

" As early as 1801, the House of Deputies had tried to standardize the academic preparation of candidates for ordination by requesting the House of Bishops to prepare an official course of theological studies. This was necessary since there were no Episcopal theological seminaries at the time.... Read More »

It has original jurisdiction to try all Presentments made against a bishop which have been approved for trial by the Board of Inquiry, which is a body serving to conduct a Preliminary Hearing on charges. The court consists of nine bishops, three of whom shall be elected at each General Convention... Read More »

The court has appellate jurisdiction to hear all appeals from a convicted bishop. In cases involving holding and teaching doctrine contrary to that of the church, it may hear appeals from the church attorney in cases of acquittal. In the latter case, the appeal is only as to questions of law and... Read More »

A binding agreement that is freely entered into by two or more parties. The parties to this solemn agreement may be individuals or groups of people. They may be of equal or unequal status. A covenant also typically includes terms, oaths, and a ritual enactment (possibly a sacrifice, a meal, an... Read More »

The first completed Bible printed in English, translated by Miles Coverdale. It was produced on the Continent and issued in 1535. This translation was based on the Vulgate, Luther's German translation of the Bible, and William Tyndale's translations of the Pentateuch, Jonah, and the NT.... Read More »

(1488-Jan. 20, 1569). Reformation-era Bible translator. He was probably born in what is called Cover-dale in that part of Yorkshire known as Richmondshire. He studied at Cambridge and was ordained priest in 1514. He joined the Augustinian Friars at Cambridge, where Robert Barnes, later a Protestant... Read More »

" See Society of St. John the Evangelist, The (SSJE) (Cowley Fathers).

The publishing ministry of the Society of St. John the Evangelist (SSJE), an Anglican religious order for men. Cowley Publications was founded in 1979 by M. Thomas Shaw, SSJE, and James Madden, SSJE, to revive the educational work of their order, which was then widely known as the Cowley Fathers.... Read More »

(Nov. 15, 1731-Apr. 25, 1800). British poet and hymn-writer. His life was marred by deep melancholy which began in his school days at Westminster School and oppressed him until his death. During Cowper's residency at Olney he established a creative, strong friendship with the Rev. John Newton... Read More »

(May 10, 1818-July 20, 1896). Leading figure of the high church party. He was born in Mendham, New Jersey. He graduated from the University of New York in 1838 and then from General Theological Seminary in 1841. He was ordained deacon on June 27, 1841, and priest on Sept. 25, 1842. He was rector of... Read More »

(Dec. 16, 1863-Sept. 22, 1942). Church architect. He was born in Hampton Falls, New Hampshire. After completing high school in 1880, he studied for five years in an architectural firm in Boston. Although he abandoned architecture for a time, he returned to that profession in 1890 and formed a... Read More »

(July 2, 1489-Mar. 21, 1556). First Protestant Archbishop of Canterbury and leader of the Anglican Reformation. He was born in Aslockton, Nottinghamshire, England. Cranmer received his B.A. from Jesus College, Cambridge University, in 1511. In 1520 he was ordained priest and selected as one of the... Read More »

(June 28, 1847-Dec. 31, 1927). Priest deposed for heresy. He was born in Fairmount, Ohio. He studied at St. Stephen's College (now Bard College) from 1867 to 1869 and received a B.D. from the General Theological Seminary in 1872. He was ordained deacon on June 30, 1872 and priest on Oct. 5,... Read More »

1) Understanding that God creates and directly infuses a new soul in every person at conception. The soul is understood to be created by God out of nothing. Creationism denies the pre-existence of the soul (Pre-existentialism), and it denies that the soul is transmitted by the parents or generated... Read More »

The reducing by fire of a dead body to ashes. The ashes may be placed in an urn or other container and interred in a niche of a columbarium. The ashes may also be buried or scattered in a memorial garden on church grounds or in a cemetery. The ashes may be referred to as "cremains." The early... Read More »

(June 1, 1762-July 26, 1832). First Bishop of the Diocese of New Jersey. He was born in Elizabethtown, New Jersey. He pursued a brief career as a teacher and served in the Continental Army during the American Revolution. After the war, he received theological instruction from Bishop William White... Read More »

The instrument of Jesus' death and the central symbol of the Christian faith. It represents Jesus' offering and sacrifice of his life in love for us and our salvation. The cross thus symbolizes the Christian life, especially in terms of love, generosity, and sacrifice. The cross itself was... Read More »

(July 26, 1903-Sept. 12, 1978). Priest and theologian. He was born in Nottinghamshire, England. His family moved to the United States when he was nine years old. Cross received his B.A. from the University of Illinois in 1926, a Certificate in Theology from the Berkeley Divinity School in 1929, and... 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.