An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church

A - Z Glossary

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This volume, edited by James Litton and published by the Church Hymnal Corporation in 1988, includes the entire Psalter of the BCP, plus the antiphons which were compiled by Howard E. Galley, Jr., and published in his The Prayer Book Office (1980). See Plainsong.

See Chasuble.

Undesignated or "loose" offering of money that is among the gifts presented at the offertory (BCP, pp. 333, 361). The term may be used to distinguish the loose offering of money from pledge payments or gifts of money designated for specific purposes. The term is associated with the practice of... Read More »

The 1889 General Convention voted to divide the Diocese of Nebraska and create the Missionary District of The Platte. This Missionary District, under several different names, existed until 1946. It was known as the Missionary District of The Platte from Oct. 23, 1889, until Oct. 13, 1898.

A commitment to give one's time, talents, and money as an expression of faith and a personal response to God's generosity. Parish members are encouraged to make an annual stewardship pledge. This pledge represents their specific Christian commitment to "work, pray, and give for the spread... Read More »

The belief that the entire Bible comes from authors whose hearts and minds were inspired by God. Their mental processes were sharpened and elevated for the task. Although all were inspired, the writers had different personalities and literary styles which are reflected in the various biblical books... Read More »

See Esse, Bene Esse, Plene Esse.

Quarterly journal of the Episcopal Society for Ministry in Higher Education (ESMHE). The journal and its title are inspired by the image of Amos and other prophets who confronted Israel as a religious community and a nation. It first appeared in Mar. 1973.

From the Greek pneuma (wind, breath, spirit) and logia (doctrine), indicating that branch of Christian theology which deals with the Holy Spirit. Three aspects of the received doctrine are especially important: 1) The recognition by the Council of Constantinople in 381 that God is one Being in... Read More »

(c. 1595-1617). Daughter of the powerful Indian chief Powhatan. While being held hostage at Jamestown, Virginia, in 1613, she was converted to Christianity and baptized as Rebecca by Alexander Whitaker. In 1614 she married John Rolfe. She may have saved the life of Captain John Smith in 1607.

George Washington's parish church. A place of worship was first established near Lewis Heights, Fort Belvoir, in the seventeenth century. Some time prior to 1730 it was relocated near the Occoquan River. This second church was about two miles southeast of the present church. In 1732 this... Read More »

A method of marking the syllables of a psalm for chanting. It is used for Anglican Chant and Plainchant. See Anglican Chant; see Plainsong.

The term is derived from the Greek word for "city." In general English usage, polity refers to the form of government in a city or nation and the body of laws which govern a political entity. In ecclesiastical use polity has come to refer also to the form of government for an organized church. In... Read More »

(Apr. 10, 1806-June 14, 1864). Bishop and Confederate general. He was born in Raleigh, North Carolina. In 1821 he matriculated at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. In 1823 he received an appointment to the United States Military Academy at West Point and graduated in 1827. He then... Read More »

Awards established in the mid-1970s by the Episcopal Communicators to acknowledge excellence and achievement in the ministry of church communications. They are named in honor of Polly Bond (1914-1979), one-time director of communications in the Diocese of Ohio. Bond was a skilled writer and a... Read More »

(d. Feb. 23, 156). Bishop and martyr. He was born in the second half of the first century and became the Bishop of Smyrna in Asia Minor (Turkey). Polycarp is listed among the "Apostolic Fathers." Writings related to him include a letter of Polycarp to the Philippians and the Martyrdom of Polycarp.... Read More »

Contrapuntal, or "many voiced," choral compositions in which the vocal lines are conceived as independent melodies that are woven together into a complex whole. This style of music is "linear" in contrast to vocal settings (including hymns) which are conceived chordally with a melody in the upper... Read More »

(b. Oct. 26, 1929). Leading traditionalist bishop. He was born in Lafayette, Louisiana. Pope received his B.A. from Centenary College in 1950, and his B.D. from the University of the South in 1954. He was ordained deacon on June 29, 1954, and priest on May 9, 1955. Pope began his ordained ministry... Read More »

See Minor Orders.

(Jan. 10, 1923-June 5, 1999). Priest, liturgical scholar, professor, editor, and missioner. He was born in Louisville, Kentucky. He received his B.A. from Yale University in 1947 and his S.T.B. from the Berkeley Divinity School in 1950. From 1950 until 1952 Porter was a fellow/tutor at the General... Read More »

A paper issued by the House of Bishops which expresses the position of the House on any given subject or issue. The House of Bishops may require the dissemination of a position paper on the same basis as a pastoral letter.

A relativistic movement that denies the existence of absolute meaning and the possibility of objective knowledge of reality. It contradicts the attempt of the Enlightenment to reach absolute truth through pure human reason. Post-modernism denies the possibility of objective theological truth. Faith... Read More »

A prayer of thanksgiving after communion that also seeks God's help for Christian service. The eucharistic community is sent "into the world in peace" to love and serve God as witnesses of Christ (BCP, pp. 365-366). This prayer expresses the transition of the Christian's attention from... Read More »

One who tests a vocation such as a vocation to an ordained ministry or the religious life. Postulants for holy orders seek ordination as deacon or priest. The length of postulancy varies. The time involves meeting with the bishop of the diocese, examination by the Commission on Ministry, along with... Read More »

(July 6, 1800-July 4, 1865). Bishop and educator. He was born in Beekman (La Grange), Dutchess County, New York. He graduated from Union College, Schenectady, New York, in 1818. In 1819 he returned to Union College as a tutor and in 1822 was made professor of mathematics and natural philosophy. At... Read More »

(May 25, 1835-July 21, 1908). Bishop and advocate of social justice. He was born in Schenectady, New York, and was the son of Alonzo Potter, the third Bishop of Pennsylvania. In 1845 the family moved to Philadelphia, and he attended the Episcopal Academy in that city. He was a student at the... Read More »

(Feb. 9, 1802-Jan. 2, 1887). Bishop and educator. He was born in Beekman (La Grange), Dutchess County, New York. He received his B.A. from Union College, Schenectady, New York, in 1826. He was ordained deacon on July 15, 1827, and priest on Dec. 14, 1828. His diaconate was spent at Trinity Church,... Read More »

Loving worship of God in prayer. We may respond with praise for God's mighty deeds throughout salvation history. The Canticle Te Deum laudamus (Canticle 21, BCP, pp. 95-96), begins, "You are God: we praise you." It recalls that Christ "became man to set us free," he "did not shun the Virgin... Read More »

The experience of corporate or individual nearness with God, through words, acts, or silence. Any act or activity offered to God in a spirit of dedication may be prayerful. This nearness may take the form of addressing God, as in prayers of petition, praise, and thanksgiving; or the form of... Read More »

See Book of Common Prayer, The ("BCP").

A comprehensive study of the liturgical and theological background of a Prayer Book. During the Puritan Commonwealth in England, when the BCP was outlawed, two systematic commentaries were published: Anthony Sparrow's A Rationale or Practical Exposition upon the Book of Common Prayer (1655)... Read More »

An examination of word usage in the 1979 BCP. This volume was published in 1988 by the Church Hymnal Corporation. It was edited by Galen Bushey. There are 6,423 separate and distinct words which appear at least once in the 1979 BCP. The first section of this book is a concordance (alphabetical... Read More »

This small volume of ninety-one pages was published by the Army and Navy Commission of the Protestant Episcopal Church in 1941. It was sent as a gift to those serving in the army and navy as a "reminder that the Church follows you into the Service with deep interest." It contained An Order of... Read More »

The Preface printed in every edition of the American BCP is an abbreviated form of the Preface prepared for the Proposed BCP of 1786 by the Rev. Dr. William Smith, then rector at Chestertown, Maryland, and founder of Washington College in that town. The second and third paragraphs and a portion of... Read More »

A series of booklets issued by the Standing Liturgical Commission beginning in 1950 making proposals for the revision of the BCP. Prayer Book Studies 16 proposed the method adopted to produce the 1979 revision of the BCP. Prayer Book Studies 17-28 were drafts of services for that revision. In 1975-... Read More »

See Litany Desk; see Prie-Dieu.


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.