An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church

A - Z Glossary

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The decade of the 1990s was declared the Decade of Evangelism by resolution of the Lambeth Conference of 1988. It called the provinces and dioceses of the Anglican Communion, in cooperation with other Christians, to make this a time of "renewed emphasis on making Christ known to the people of his... Read More »

See Ten Commandments, The.

The term is derived from Latin, meaning "place of the dean." Traditionally, the dean sat on the south side of the cathedral. In antiphonal singing, the term decani indicated those who sit on the decanal or dean's side of the choir of a church or cathedral. The opposite side is known as "... Read More »

Statement of belief in the scriptures and conformity to the doctrine, discipline, and worship of the Episcopal Church by an ordinand in the ordination service. The Declaration of Consent is stated by the ordinand and then a written version of the Declaration of Consent is signed by the ordinand in... Read More »

The BCP provides a form for the Dedication and Consecration of a Church (pp. 567-574). The bishop presides at this service. The church may be consecrated at any time after it is ready for regular use as a place of worship. The building does not have to be debt-free or owned (see BCP, p. 575). All... Read More »

(Dec. 8, 1776-Aug. 6, 1817). High church bishop. He was born in Boston. He graduated from Harvard College in 1795 and received his theological education from Samuel Parker, later Bishop of Massachusetts. He was ordained to the diaconate on Dec. 24, 1797, and to the priesthood on Oct. 9, 1800. Dehon... Read More »

See Apotheosis; see Theosis.

A teaching about God which appeared in both Christian and non-Christian forms during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries in England and France, under the influence of rationalism and the rise of natural science. Lord Herbert of Cherbury (1580-1630) introduced deist thought to England. It was... Read More »

Located on the campus of the former Racine College (1852-1933), it was named for the Rev. James DeKoven, warden of Racine College, 1859-1879. The DeKoven Center is a complex that includes the Collegiate Chapel of St. John; the shrine of James DeKoven; gardens and a nature trail; a gym and pool; and... Read More »

(Sept. 19, 1831-Mar. 19, 1879). DeKoven was born in Middletown, Connecticut. He graduated from Columbia College in 1851 and as valedictorian at the General Theological Seminary in 1854. DeKoven was ordained deacon on Aug. 6, 1854, and priest on Sept. 23, 1855. In 1854 he became professor of... Read More »

William Heathcote DeLancey (1797-1865), the first Bishop of Western New York, opened a diocesan school of divinity at Geneva, New York, in 1850. The Rev. Dr. William Dexter Wilson (1816-1900) was in charge of it. It operated until 1858. On Feb. 1, 1861, DeLancey opened the Diocesan Training School... Read More »

(Bessie) (1891-1995), and Sarah Louise (Sadie) Delaney (1889-1999), were the daughters of Henry Beard Delaney and Nancy Logan Delaney. Henry Delaney was a Suffragan Bishop of North Carolina and the second African American bishop in the Episcopal Church. Annie and Sarah and their siblings were... Read More »

(Feb. 5, 1858-Apr. 14, 1928). Second African American bishop in the Episcopal Church. He was born a slave in St. Mary's, Georgia. Delaney was raised in Fernandina, Florida. He was a grown man when he entered St. Augustine's College at Raleigh, North Carolina, from which he graduated in... Read More »

It was organized on Sept. 26-27, 1786, at Dover. The first bishop was not consecrated until 1841. On May 14, 1935, St. John's Church, Wilmington, was set apart as St. John's Cathedral. Read More »

(Feb. 13, 1869-Oct. 14, 1957). First African American Episcopal bishop in the United States. He was born in Wilmington, Delaware. Demby studied at Howard University, and in 1893 received his B.D. from Wilberforce University. He was dean of Paul Quinn College in Texas between 1894 and 1896. Demby... Read More »

A twentieth-century theological term that was used extensively by Rudolph Bultmann. He understood the word "myth" to be a way to communicate one's faith to others in a time- and culturally-dependent way. For example, in the NT, the writers used the language and specific terminology of their... Read More »

John the Evangelist. These related educational institutions in Colorado were for the education of clergy. Theological education began at Matthews Hall, Golden, and then moved to Denver in 1879 as the Denver Theological School. The College of St. John the Evangelist, "a theological school for the... Read More »

Sentence of ecclesiastical discipline pronounced by a bishop that permanently excludes the exercise of ordained ministry by the bishop, priest, or deacon who is deposed. Conditions for deposition are prescribed by the Constitution and Canons of the Episcopal Church.

The saving revelation of Christ that has been given to the church, especially as known through biblical witness and tradition. The deposit of faith is to be upheld and proclaimed by the church. This requires fidelity to the received tradition, willingness to rediscover continually the truth of the... Read More »

1) In canon law, a deposition is a sentence that removes or deposes a bishop, priest, or deacon from the ordained ministry. A member of the clergy who is deposed is entirely banned from the sacred ministry, and not merely changed from one order to another. For example, a deposed bishop could not... Read More »

A state of corruption that is believed to affect the unredeemed human nature. The doctrine of original sin affirms that the first human beings sinned against the Creator in such a way that their descendants inherit a corrupt nature. It derives by contrast from the scriptural teaching that the... Read More »

Prayer for deliverance. Deprecations in the Great Litany include petitions for deliverance from all evil and wickedness, all blindness of heart, all inordinate and sinful affections, all false doctrine, lightning and tempest, and all oppression. Deprecations in the Great Litany ask for deliverance... Read More »

The House of Deputies is the oldest of the two Houses of General Convention. It has equal numbers of clergy and lay deputies selected by the dioceses of the church. The first session of the first General Convention, held in 1789, consisted only of the House of Deputies. It adopted a constitutional... Read More »

Each diocese, area mission, and the Convocation of the American Churches in Europe is entitled to not more than four ordained representatives in the House of Deputies. They must be presbyters or deacons, and canonically resident in the diocese. Each diocese, area mission, and the Convocation of the... Read More »

Harmony with a fixed theme in music. It is usually a higher soprano part sung to complement one or more verses of a hymn. For example, "While shepherds watched their flocks" (Hymn 94) has descants on the second and sixth verses, and "Praise to the Lord, the Almighty" (Hymn 390) has a descant on the... Read More »

" These "desks," sometimes called "ethnic desks," refer to the staff at the Episcopal Church Center in New York who have networks, or commissions and committees, whom they represent at Episcopal or ecumenical meetings. These "desks" may also provide program services if funded in the general church... Read More »

Once fallen into disuse as an inferior order used mainly as a stepping stone to the priesthood, the diaconate (order of deacons) has been restored in the Anglican, Roman Catholic, and several Protestant churches. In the Episcopal Church the diaconate is a full order equal to the presbyterate and... Read More »

The practice of opening the eucharistic prayer with a dialogue between presider and people dates from the early church, as recorded in the Apostolic Tradition of Hippolytus in about the year 215. The dialogue consists of three exchanges: the salutation, "The Lord be with you," the command, "Lift up... Read More »

This document, also known as The Teaching of the Twelve Apostles, and sometimes called The Teaching of the Lord to the Heathen by the Twelve Apostles, dates from the early second century. Its author, date, and place of writing are unknown. "Didache" is Greek for "teaching." The document, an early... Read More »

Canticle based on Rv 4:11; 5:9-10, 13, which describes hymns sung before the One seated on the heavenly throne and to the Lamb in the heavenly vision. These may be drawn from early Christian hymns. Dignus es is also known as A Song to the Lamb. It identifies Christ as the "Lamb that was slain," who... Read More »

The territorial jurisdiction of a diocesan bishop. The term also refers to the congregations and church members of the diocese. Before the church adopted the word it had a long secular usage. It was originally used in the Roman Empire for an administrative subdivision. A diocese was a division of a... Read More »

A set of two tablets, made of wood or metal, and bound together by rings. The names of saints, bishops, rulers, and the faithful departed were inscribed on the inner surfaces. These names were read out by the deacon during the eucharistic liturgy.

Sometimes called per saltum (by a leap), it is ordination directly to the order for which one is chosen. In the early church those elected presbyter or bishop were commonly ordained directly to that order. Although direct ordination continued in Rome and elsewhere until the eleventh century,... Read More »

A mournful hymn. It can be a hymn that expresses grief, and it may be a lament for the dead. The term comes from the Latin Dirige, the first word of the antiphon Dirige, Dominus Deus, "Lead me, O Lord God" (Ps 5:8). This antiphon preceded the first psalm in the Office of the Dead in medieval... Read More »

A follower or pupil of a great master. A disciple is a learner who follows a movement or teacher and helps to spread the master's teaching. The term is used in various senses and contexts in the NT to indicate the followers of Jesus. Although it is used at times relative to the Twelve, it is... Read More »

The term is from Latin for the "discipline of secrecy." It concerns the secrecy practiced by the early church so that certain teachings and practices were not shared with converts until they were initiated and had begun full participation in the life of the Christian community. Catechumens in the... 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.