An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church

A - Z Glossary

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The term (from the Greek gnosis, "knowledge") refers to a loosely defined group of religious sects which flourished near the beginning of the Christian era. They were all syncretistic, incorporating elaborate myths, elements of Hellenistic mystery cults, Greek philosophy and mythology, and features... Read More »

See Sponsor (at Baptism).

(1640-c. 1690). Missionary and author. He was baptized at Bicknor, Gloucestershire, England, on Dec. 2, 1640. Godwin (sometimes spelled Godwyn) studied at Christ Church, Oxford, and graduated in 1664. He was ordained deacon and priest and began his ministry in Virginia in 1666. Godwin returned to... Read More »

(June 17, 1845-Jan. 11, 1903). Theologian, liturgist, and seminary professor. He was born in Washington, D.C. Gold studied first at Columbia College and graduated from Harvard College in 1865. He attended General Seminary for two years, 1865-1867, and then Seabury Hall from 1867 until 1868. Gold... Read More »

An indication of the date of the full moon which follows the spring equinox (Mar. 21) in a nineteen-year cycle, used in finding the date of Easter Day. The Golden Number is printed before the Sunday Letter in the calendar of the BCP, pp. 21-22, for the dates from Mar. 22 through Apr. 18. The Golden... Read More »

" Maxim based on Jesus' teaching in the Sermon on the Mount, Mt 7:12 (NRSV), "In everything do to others as you would have them do to you; for this is the law and the prophets." (see also Lk 6:31.) It is frequently expressed, "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." Read More »

" The sequence hymn for the Day of Pentecost, Veni Sancte Spiritus (Hymns 226-227), is sometimes called the Golden Sequence. The BCP rubrics direct that the Veni Sancte Spiritus or the Veni Creator Spiritus (Hymns 503-504) is to be sung before the prayer of consecration at the ordination of bishops... Read More »

The Friday before Easter Day, on which the church commemorates the crucifixion of Jesus. It is a day of fasting and special acts of discipline and self-denial. In the early church candidates for baptism, joined by others, fasted for a day or two before the Paschal feast. In the west the first of... Read More »

An English translation of the Bible, published by the American Bible Society. The NT translation was published in 1966, and the OT translation was published in 1976. This Bible translation is presented in contemporary style and language. The Good News Bible does not always seek to have an exact,... Read More »

(June 18, 1869-Sept. 7, 1939). Historian and priest. He was born in Richmond, Virginia. Goodwin received his B.A. and M.A. from Roanoke College in 1889. In 1890 he studied at Richmond College. He received his B.D. from Virginia Theological Seminary in 1893. Goodwin was ordained deacon on June 23,... Read More »

(d. July 1702). One of the first missionaries to colonial America. Gordon was the first missionary sent by the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel (SPG) to the province of New York. He died in New York shortly after his arrival.

(June 6, 1925-Jan. 3, 1990). African American theological educator. He was born in Greenwich, Connecticut. He graduated from Wilberforce University in 1945 and from the Episcopal Theological School in 1947. He was ordained deacon on Mar. 31, 1949, and priest on Oct. 31, 1949. He was rector of the... Read More »

(May 6, 1918-Jan. 4, 1994). Bishop of Alaska. He was born in Spray, North Carolina. Gordon received his B.A. in 1940 from the University of North Carolina and his B.D. from the Virginia Theological Seminary in 1943. He was ordained deacon on Jan. 24, 1943, and priest on July 25, 1943. Gordon was... Read More »

(Jan. 22, 1853-Jan. 17, 1932). Theologian and bishop. He was a prolific writer, producing during his lifetime major studies in theology which had an influence far beyond the Church of England. He was also Bishop of Worcester, Birmingham, and Oxford. Gore first came to public attention when he... Read More »

The English word "gospel" (from Anglo-Saxon godspel) or "good news" translates the Greek euangelion. Originally in Christian usage it meant the good news of God's saving act in Jesus Christ, focused on the cross and resurrection (1 Cor. 15:1-11). The term was used in the opening verse of the... Read More »

Before and after a gospel reading, the people acclaim Christ present in the sacred word. The acclamations of the Episcopal Church are translations of the Latin Gloria tibi, Domine and Laus tibi, Christe. They are, in Rite 1, "Glory be to thee, O Lord" and "Praise be to thee, O Christ"; and in Rite... Read More »

A monthly periodical published at Newburyport, Massachusetts, beginning with the issue of Jan. 1821. It was a continuation of the Churchman's Repository for the Eastern Diocese. In Jan. 1822, it moved to Boston. It was published until Dec. 1826, when its subscription list was turned over to... Read More »

From ancient times the gospel pericopes have been collected in a large book with an ornate cover, often illustrated and adorned with icons and jewels. This practice was recovered with the 1979 BCP, which suggests that the lessons and gospel "be read from a book or books of appropriate size and... Read More »

This weekly periodical began publication on Jan. 20, 1827, at Auburn, New York. In 1835 it was moved to Utica, New York. The last issue was published in Nov. 1872.

This periodical was published at Charleston, South Carolina. The initial issue was dated Jan. 1824, and it continued until 1853. It was for years the most influential publication of the Episcopal Church in the South. It was also called the Charleston Gospel Messenger and Protestant Episcopal... Read More »

In many places it is customary to have a gospel procession to the place of reading. A procession may include several persons-the reader, two candle bearers, a thurifer, and, if needed, someone to hold the gospel book. Incense may be used to honor the gospel book. The presider blesses the deacon or... Read More »

" An archaic term referring to the left side of the altar, and that side of the church building, as viewed by the congregation from the nave. The gospel was read from this side of the altar in the low mass of the Roman Rite. The epistle was read from the opposite side of the altar, which was known... Read More »

The term names a liturgical function, referring to a member of the clergy who reads the gospel. A deacon normally reads the gospel when present at the eucharist. See Deacon.

The style of architecture prevalent in Europe from the twelfth to the sixteenth centuries. The chief distinguishing feature is the pointed arch. A revival of gothic architecture began in England in the last half of the eighteenth century, but it did not achieve popularity until the nineteenth... Read More »

A long, loose-fitting garment that is distinctive for students, graduates, or officers of a university or college. It is an academic insignia. The wearer's academic degree may be indicated by the trim material or the cut of the gown. Gowns are typically black, but some schools use a... Read More »

God's love freely given to humanity for salvation. The term is from the Latin gratia, a "gift or favor freely given," translating the Greek NT charis. Various themes concerning grace have been emphasized since the NT. The Pauline epistles present grace as unmerited and effective as God's forgiving... Read More »

The seat of the Bishop of California. It was organized on Apr. 28, 1850, by the Rev. Jean Leonard ver Mehr (1809-1886), the first priest appointed to San Francisco. It was the second Episcopal parish in San Francisco. The first church building opened for services on July 20, 1850. On Jan. 24, 1910... Read More »

" Prayer based on 2 Cor 13:13, "The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all" (RSV). It is named for the opening words of the prayer. The words of St. Paul's trinitarian benediction are modified in the Prayer Book version, "The... Read More »

A raised shelf or ledge behind the altar. The altar cross, altar lights, and vases of flowers may be placed on it. The tabernacle may also be placed on it. See Retable.

A psalm, hymn, or anthem that is sung or read between the OT reading and the epistle at the eucharist. The term comes from the Latin gradus, "step," on which cantors stood. The gradual serves as a meditation or response to the reading, and the gradual psalm has sometimes been called the "... Read More »

(Apr. 12, 1830-Aug. 30. 1912). Co-founder of the Society of St. John the Evangelist and Anglo-catholic bishop. He was born in Boston. Grafton came under the influence of William Croswell, the founder of the Church of the Advent, Boston, which was a leading Anglo-catholic parish. He was confirmed in... Read More »

(Feb. 2, 1891-July 11, 1974). Scholar and theologian. He was born in Beloit, Wisconsin. Grant was ordained deacon on June 6, 1912, and received his B.D. from the General Theological Seminary in 1913. He was ordained priest on June 22, 1913, and served parishes in Michigan and Illinois before... Read More »

(Aug. 20, 1898-Dec. 4, 1973). Ecumenical leader and eighth Bishop of Connecticut. Gray was born in Richmond, Virginia. He studied at the College of William and Mary and the Law School of the University of Richmond before receiving his B.D. from the Virginia Theological Seminary in 1928. Gray was... Read More »

The response of assent by the congregation at the conclusion of the eucharistic prayer. As the eucharistic celebration is shared by the congregation and the presider, the Great Amen emphasizes the assent of the people to the words spoken on their behalf by the presider. The Great Amen is the "... Read More »

A religious revival in the American colonies in the eighteenth century. It occurred episodically from about 1720 until about 1770. It was part of the religious fervor which swept western Europe during the latter part of the seventeenth century and most of the eighteenth century. This movement was... Read More »

English Bible prepared by Miles Coverdale. The term is based on the size of the Bible. It was printed by Richard Grafton and Edward Whitchurch. It has been called "Whitchurch's Bible." The printing was begun in Paris but later continued in London owing to the hostility of the Sorbonne. In Sept... 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.