An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church

A - Z Glossary

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See Great O Antiphons of Advent.

(d. Aug. 31, 1931). The only American Indian listed in the Episcopal calendar of the church year. He was born between 1844 and 1851 on a Cheyenne reservation in Western Oklahoma. Oakerhater, whose name means "Making Medicine," was imprisoned in Florida for his alleged role in the Battle of Adobe... Read More »

A swearing that asserts the truth of a statement or promise, typically in the name of God. An oath is often made formally and solemnly. For example, a witness at a trial may swear that his or her testimony will be the full truth. Similarly, one who takes an oath of office swears to fulfill the... Read More »

In 1604 Parliament passed an act requiring all clergy of the Church of England to take an Oath of Allegiance at their ordination to the diaconate or priesthood in which they acknowledged the King (or Queen) of England as supreme governor of the church in all spiritual and temporal matters. Those... Read More »

The term is from the Latin for "offered." Historically, in medieval times, oblates were children who were "given to God" in a monastery by their parents. The child would be educated in the monastery with a view to becoming a member of the religious community. This practice was endorsed by the Rule... Read More »

1) Prayer of self-offering. Oblation is "an offering of ourselves, our lives and labors, in union with Christ, for the purposes of God" (BCP, p. 857). Christian oblation is based in Christ's one offering of himself for our salvation. The BCP states that oblation is one of the principal kinds... Read More »

The term comes from a Latin word which means earnest entreaty or supplication made in the name of a deity or some sacred thing. The word has often been used to designate those petitions in the Great Litany which begin with the word "By" (see BCP, p. 149).

Funeral rites or ceremonies for the burial of the dead.


" See Oil, Holy.

See Pastoral Offices.

These were originally issued beginning in 1982 as a series of papers by the Standing Liturgical Commission with the authorization of the General Convention. In 1987 those published during the 1982-85 triennium were published in book form with this title. In 1994 the title of the series was changed... Read More »

The coincidence of two scheduled feasts or observances of the calendar of the church year on the same day. For example, feasts celebrated on fixed dates such as All Saints' Day (Nov. 1) or the feast of Saint Andrew the Apostle (Nov. 30) might occur on Sundays. The calendar of the church year... Read More »

Celebration of a feast over an eight-day period, beginning with the feast day itself as the first day. The term is from Latin for "eighth." The term may indicate the entire eight-day celebration or the eighth day of the celebration (also known as the octave day). Celebration of saints' days... Read More »

The term is from the Latin, "theological hatred," and indicates the bitterness and hostility that may accompany theological controversy.

(Nov. 3, 1823-Dec. 9, 1909). Priest and artist. He was born in Furth, near Nuremberg, in Bavaria, Germany. Oertel studied art in Nuremberg and Munich and spent much of his time engraving until 1848, when he came to the United States. He lived in Newark and then Madison, New Jersey. In 1861 he moved... Read More »

Gifts presented at a church service or other gathering. At the offertory, prior to the eucharistic prayer, representatives of the congregation bring the people's offerings of bread and wine, and money or other gifts, to the deacon or celebrant (BCP, p. 361). An offering (typically of money)... Read More »

The first action of the second part of the Holy Eucharist-the liturgy of the table, called The Holy Communion by the BCP (pp. 333, 361). It consists of bread and wine, along with money and other gifts, which are presented to the deacon (or celebrant) who then sets the table for the feast. The... Read More »

An office hymn has formed a part of the Daily Offices of western Christians since the time of St. Ambrose in the fourth century. Ambrose is credited with beginning the practice of singing hymns in his cathedral, and the earliest surviving Latin office hymns are attributed to him. The office hymns... Read More »

American Prayer Books preceding the 1979 BCP included "An Office of Institution of Ministers into Parishes or Churches." After the 1844 revision, this rite only provided for the induction of the rector of a parish. Prior to the 1928 BCP, the service included Morning Prayer with proper lessons and... Read More »

The person who leads the Daily Office or another church service. The term may indicate a member of the clergy or a lay person. The BCP uses the term to identify the person who leads the Daily Offices of Morning Prayer, Noonday Prayer, Order of Worship for the Evening, Evening Prayer, and Compline;... Read More »

(Dec. 22, 1696-July 1, 1785). Social reformer and founder of Georgia. He was born in London. After education at Eton and Corpus Christi College, Oxford, he entered the army in 1712. In 1729 Oglethorpe presided over a committee which brought about much-needed reforms in the prison system. From this... Read More »

The diocese was first organized on Jan. 5, 1818. The 1874 General Convention voted to divide the diocese and establish the Diocese of Southern Ohio. The Diocese of Ohio includes the following counties: Allen, Ashland, Ashtabula, Auglaize, Carroll, Columbia, Coshocton, Crawford, Cuyahoga, Defiance,... Read More »


See Oil, Holy.

Small container for oil that has been blessed for use as chrism or for anointing the sick. The oil stock is typically made of metal, and it may be decorated with a cross.

Olive oil that has been blessed is used sacramentally in the liturgical and pastoral ministries of the church. Holy oil is usually applied by the minister of the sacrament or sacramental rite to the forehead of the one who is anointed. The minister often applies the oil with the thumb, making the... Read More »

Okalona Industrial School, Okalona, Mississippi, was founded in 1902 by Wallace A. Battle as a high school and junior college for African American students to prepare for vocations in manual work. In 1920 the Diocese of Mississippi took over the school to "develop it along church lines." In 1921 it... Read More »

The House of Bishops established the Missionary District of Okinawa on Sept. 18, 1967. The first and only Missionary Bishop of Okinawa was the Rt. Rev. Edmond L. Browning. On Jan. 1, 1972, it was transferred to the Holy Catholic Church in Japan (Nippon Sei Ko Kai).

The House of Bishops in 1859 established the Missionary District of the Southwest. This included Oklahoma. The 1892 General Convention established the Missionary District of Oklahoma. In 1910 the General Convention voted to divide the Missionary District of Oklahoma and established the Missionary... Read More »

It was in the tower of this church on Apr. 18, 1775, that the sexton, Robert Newman, displayed the two lanterns which warned Paul Revere and his fellow riders that the British were marching toward Lexington and Concord. Its official name is Christ Church. It was founded in 1723, when the number of... Read More »

Officially named Holy Trinity from its consecration on Trinity Sunday, July 4, 1699, it was the oldest of the Swedish Lutheran churches. The congregation existed from the establishment of the first Swedish settlement at Fort Christina in 1638. Gradually the Church of Sweden withdrew its support and... Read More »

The name traditionally given to the first thirty-nine books of the Christian Bible, i.e., Genesis through Malachi in Protestant versions. Roman Catholic versions and those of the various Orthodox churches have additional books, called the Apocrypha or the Deutero-canonical books. Other versions... Read More »

A 1779 collection of sixty-eight texts by William Cowper (1731-1800) and 280 texts by John Newton (1725-1807). Some of the texts were previously published. Most current hymnals include some texts from this work. Cowper was a widely acclaimed poet. His hymns reflect the melancholy which oppressed... Read More »

On Oct. 13, 1853, the General Convention established the Missionary District of the Oregon and Washington Territory. On Oct. 15, 1880, the General Convention divided this Missionary District into the Missionary District of Oregon and the Missionary District of Washington. The 1892 General... Read More »

(July 15, 1791-Apr. 30, 1861). Controversial Bishop of New York. He was born in New York City. Onderdonk graduated from Columbia College in 1809. He studied theology under Bishop John Henry Hobart of New York, where he learned high church principles. He was ordained deacon on Aug. 2, 1812, and... Read More »

(Mar. 16, 1789-Dec. 6, 1858). Controversial Bishop of Pennsylvania. He was born in New York City. Onderdonk graduated from Columbia College in 1805, and then studied medicine in London and Edinburgh. He received his M.D. from the University of Edinburgh. After a few years of medical practice, he... Read More »

Deriving from the present participle of the Greek verb "to be," it is the study of being. Ontology studies being in its general, common nature rather than in its particular types and instances. It is also known as the study of first principles or metaphysics.


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.