An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church

A - Z Glossary

A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | V | W | Y | Z


This collection of fifteen essays by liberal catholics of the Church of England was edited by Edward Gordon Selwyn. It was published in 1926. It was an effort to take seriously both the catholic tradition and critical scholarship. The contributors felt compelled to "think out afresh the content and... Read More »

Terms for characterizing the significance of a doctrine or practice for the church. Esse indicates that which is of the essence of the very existence of the life of the church. Bene esse indicates that which is of benefit for the life of the church. Plene esse indicates that which is of the... Read More »

An arrangement in which a religion or a particular religious institution enjoys official status and the state may enforce conformity. The establishment of Christianity began with Constantine the Great (d. 337) who first tolerated Christianity instead of persecuting it, and then later actively... Read More »

(or Etheria or Aetheria), Pilgrim.

As a field of study, the subject matter of ethics is the moral life. The moral life itself has been variously understood, although two approaches have most fundamentally defined ethics. One approach emphasizes human fulfillment and happiness and results in a teleological ethic focusing on ends. The... Read More »

The sacrament of Christ's body and blood, and the principal act of Christian worship. The term is from the Greek, "thanksgiving." Jesus instituted the eucharist "on the night when he was betrayed." At the Last Supper he shared the bread and cup of wine at a sacred meal with his disciples. He... Read More »

Adoration of God in prayer "is the lifting up of the heart and mind to God, asking nothing but to enjoy God's presence" (BCP, p. 857). Eucharistic adoration is devotional adoration of the real presence of Christ in the consecrated bread and wine of the eucharist. Private eucharistic adoration... Read More »

The fixed portion of the eucharistic prayer which does not vary with the liturgical season or occasion. See Canon.

Bread and wine that are consecrated in the eucharist. The bread recalls the work of human hands required to harvest the wheat and make the bread, and the companionship of sharing. The wine recalls festivity and celebration, along with sacrifice. These elements of the communal meal are offered by... Read More »

This prayer over the bread and wine at communion begins with the Sursum Corda dialogue and concludes with the doxology and the Great Amen. The prayer is also called The Great Thanksgiving, the anaphora, the prayer of consecration, and the canon of the Mass. The BCP includes eight eucharistic... Read More »

That which is offered to God in the Holy Communion. The identification of Jesus' sacrifice with the eucharist is derived from the Last Supper, when Jesus identified the bread with his body and the wine with his blood of the new covenant (see 1 Cor 11:23-26; Mk 14:22-25). The Letter to the... Read More »

The sharing of the Holy Communion among members of different churches. Conditions for such admission are defined and stated by each church for itself. See Ecumenical Movement.

Traditional liturgical garments worn at the celebration of the eucharist. In medieval times in the western church, priests officiating at the altar wore six garments over the cassock. These were the amice (a loose collar or hood), the alb (a full-length sleeved gown), and girdle. Over them was the... Read More »

Heretical teaching about the person of Christ associated with Eutyches (c. 378-454). He was the archimandrite (monastic superior) of a large monastery in Constantinople, and influential at the imperial court in Constantinople in the middle of the fifth century. Eutyches was caught up in the... Read More »

Formed from the noun evangel (from the Greek euanggelion, "good news"), it means simply "pertaining to the gospel." Hooker referred to the Magnificat, Benedictus, and Nunc Dimittis as "Evangelical Hymns" since their texts come from the Gospel of Luke. ... Read More »

This journal was published biweekly and then weekly from Sept. 13, 1851, until Dec. 30, 1852. It was founded and edited by William Augustus Muhlenberg. It was intended to be above the party divisions of the Episcopal Church at the time. Muhlenberg wanted to unite evangelical and catholic in the... Read More »

This was a party or style of churchmanship which was advocated primarily by William Augustus Muhlenberg. Muhlenberg developed its ideas in his publication The Evangelical Catholic. An evangelical catholic is evangelical in stressing a personal faith in Jesus Christ and the role of the emotions in... Read More »

Evangelicalism first expressed itself in the Episcopal Church during the Great Awakening. From 1811 until 1873, there was a very significant evangelical movement or party within the Episcopal Church. The beginning of the movement can be dated from the consecration of Alexander Viets Griswold as... Read More »

It was published by the Protestant Episcopal Society for the Promotion of Christian Knowledge, also known as the Evangelical Knowledge Society. It was published in Philadelphia from Jan. 1860, until Sept. 1862.

From the Greek euangelion, "good news." An evangelist is one who tells the story of Jesus. The epistle to the Ephesians (4:11) names evangelists after apostles and prophets in the list of ministers in the NT church. Little else is said about evangelists or evangelism except that Philip... Read More »

(Apr. 26, 1792-July 16, 1868). Lay theologian and defender of high church principles. He was born in Baltimore, Maryland. Evans began to study law when he was eighteen, and entered practice on Aug. 19, 1815. Throughout his life, Evans was a widely published author and an editor of church journals.... Read More »

The evening or day before a feast or other important celebration. Depending on local customs and practice, the celebration of a feast may begin on the eve of the feast. In many parishes, the principal Christmas services take place on Christmas Eve. The BCP provides directions for a Vigil of... Read More »

One of the principal Daily Offices. Evening Prayer has been the title for the Evening Office in Anglican worship since the 1552 revision of the Prayer Book. The BCP provides forms for Daily Evening Prayer in traditional and contemporary language (pp. 61, 115). Evening Prayer may begin with an... Read More »

Since the late middle ages "evensong" has been the popular name for vespers (from the Latin vesperis, "evening"), the Evening Office of the western church. Cranmer used it in the 1549 BCP. Although in 1552 he replaced it with "Evening Prayer," the common name remains "evensong." In many Anglican... Read More »

A parochial stewardship campaign that invites every member of the parish to make a pledge for the upcoming year. The campaign may urge the parishioners to offer their time, talent, and treasure. Members of the parish pledge to give a certain amount of money to the church. The campaign may encourage... Read More »

A process of development or unfolding. A dynamic "evolutionary" understanding of the development of the cosmos and the forms of life within it appeared in European thought before the nineteenth century. The theory of evolution was forcefully introduced into the English scene by Charles... Read More »

A pitcher for pouring water. It is typically made of silver or another precious metal, or pottery. A ewer may be used to pour water into the font before the prayer of thanksgiving over the water at baptism, or to fill basins for the washing of feet on Maundy Thursday. Images of a ewer and basin are... Read More »

(May 22, 1826-Oct. 10, 1883). Priest and leading nineteenth-century Anglo-catholic. He was born on Nantucket Island, Massachusetts. He graduated from Harvard College in 1849, and joined the California gold rush. In California he worked as an engineer and a newspaper editor. Ewer was a self-... Read More »

From the Latin, meaning "by the work of the doer." In sacramental theology, the phrase concerns the proper disposition of the minister or recipient of a sacrament. It does not deny the objective reality of the sacraments, but it indicates that the proper disposition is needed for the sacrament... Read More »

From the Latin, meaning "by the work done." In sacramental theology, the objective reality and effectiveness of the sacraments when validly celebrated, regardless of the subjective attitudes or qualities of the ministers or recipients. For example, the real presence of Christ in the eucharist is... Read More »

See Holy Cross Day.

The disciplinary exclusion of a person from receiving communion by competent religious authority. It represents exclusion from the corporate life of the church. Excommunication was intended to encourage repentance and not meant to be a punishment. The Prayer Book Disciplinary Rubrics for the Holy... Read More »

The national body that administers the program and policies adopted by the General Convention. It was called the National Council from 1919-1964. It is currently composed of twenty members elected by General Convention, eighteen members elected by the Provincial Synods, and the following ex officio... Read More »

Literally a "leading out." The term is used in biblical studies to signify the drawing out of the meaning of the texts of Holy Scripture. Some biblical scholars, notably Rudolf Bultmann, use the term to indicate what the text means to the contemporary reader or hearer. Others, such as Krister... Read More »

An earnest admonishment. Two exhortations to prepare the congregation for communion were published in the 1548 Order for Communion, and these were included in the 1549 BCP. A third exhortation was added in the 1552 BCP. The 1928 BCP also included three exhortations, but the 1979 BCP has only one, a... Read More »

The driving out of evil spirits from persons or places with authority derived from Christ. The NT records exorcisms performed by Jesus, e.g., Mk 5:1-13, and by the apostles, e.g., Acts 16:18. The BOS does not provide a rite of exorcism, but it gives these guidelines: "Those who find themselves in... 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.