An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church

A - Z Glossary

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See Response.

A vest or shirtfront worn by clergy. It is usually black, and often worn over a white shirt with long sleeves. The clerical collar is attached to the rabat.

The Episcopal Diocesan Council of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, in 1851, felt the need for an Episcopal college in southeastern Wisconsin, to prepare young men for the seminary at Nashotah House, as well as to prepare others for professional and business careers. The Rev. Joseph H. Nichols, rector of St.... Read More »

(Oct. 30, 1850-Dec. 17, 1933). Priest and social reformer. He was born near Dublin, Ireland. Rainsford received his B.A. from St. John's College, Cambridge, in 1872. He was ordained deacon on Dec. 21, 1873, and priest on Dec. 20, 1874. He began his ministry at St. Giles's Church, Norwich... Read More »

(June 28, 1912-Oct. 29, 1993). Broadcast media pioneer for the Episcopal Church. She was a native of Atlanta, Georgia, and served as executive secretary to the Bishop of Atlanta and produced his radio talks. In 1954 she founded and became the first executive director of the Episcopal Radio-TV... Read More »

(Nov. 14, 1904-Apr. 23, 1988). A significant Anglican theologian and Archbishop of Canterbury from 1961 to 1974. His work as a theologian began with The Gospel and the Catholic Church (1936), an ecumenical and biblical study which established his reputation as a major voice in Anglicanism. His... Read More »

(1657-1700). First rector of King's Chapel, Boston. He was a graduate of Exeter College, Oxford University, and appointed by the Bishop of London to minister in Boston. Ratcliffe arrived in Boston on May 15, 1686, and on June 15, 1686, King's Chapel parish was organized with Ratcliffe as... Read More »

In Christian theology, rationalism (from the Latin ratio, meaning "reason") indicates a mode of thought in which human reason is the ultimate authority in establishing religious truth. In normative Anglican theology, reason is treated as one of three related sources of authority, along with... Read More »

(May 17, 1772-Mar. 5, 1830). Bishop and high churchman. He was born in Blandford in Prince George's County, Maryland. Ravenscroft studied law at the College of William and Mary, but he never practiced law. He settled in Lunenburg County, Virginia, where for eighteen years he exhibited no... Read More »

See Lector; see Lay Reader.

See Reading Pew.

A small pew used by the officiant who led Morning or Evening Prayer. It was also known as the reading desk. Historically, it was also used for reading the litany, and the decalogue, the epistle, and the gospel at the eucharist. It was typically located in the nave so that the people could hear the... Read More »

The BCP refers to those persons already baptized who are presented to the bishop in the context of a service of Baptism or Confirmation to reaffirm their baptismal vows. These might be persons returning to the church after a period of unbelief or those who have entered a new level of spiritual life... Read More »

The presence of Christ in the sacrament of the Holy Eucharist. The 1991 statement of the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission notes, "The elements are not mere signs; Christ's body and blood become really present and are really given. But they are really present and given in order... Read More »

See Eschatology.

One of the three sources of authority in Anglicanism, along with scripture and tradition. Reason interprets scripture and tradition and allows itself to be corrected and enlarged by them. Reason is considered in Anglican thought to be more than calculation and logic, and it draws upon the entirety... Read More »

To retract. Used especially in regard to a charge of ecclesiastical misdoing or heresy, the word meant to repent of a prohibited or heretical act. The word is no longer found in the canons, but the concept is found in the canon, "Of the Abandonment of the Communion of this Church," whereby a member... Read More »

This theological term indicates that fallen humanity has been "reheaded" and reconstituted in Christ. The term is from the Greek anacephalaeosis, "summing up" or "summary." It is found in the statement of Eph 1:10 that God set forth in Christ "to unite (recapitulate) all things in him, things in... Read More »

Baptized persons who have been members of another Christian fellowship and who wish to be affiliated with the Episcopal Church may make a public affirmation of their faith and commitment to the responsibilities of their baptism in the presence of a bishop. The bishop lays hands on each candidate... Read More »

Consent of the faithful to statements of the church's faith. An ancient view states that the truth of a doctrine is known by the universality of its reception or acceptance in the church. Under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, the entire church can receive and recognize God's truth in... Read More »

The BCP provides a form of prayers for use when the body is brought to the church prior to the burial service (pp. 466-467). The form includes prayers for the deceased and the bereaved.

The belief that the eucharistic elements of bread and wine are unchanged during the prayer of consecration but that the faithful believer receives the body and blood of Christ in receiving communion. This was the prevailing eucharistic theology in the Reformation era of Anglicanism. The Articles of... Read More »

The traditional methods of psalmody, whether spoken or sung, are direct recitation, antiphonal recitation, and responsorial recitation. Direct recitation means the reading or singing of the entire psalm or portion of the psalm in unison. It is frequently used to recite or chant the psalm following... Read More »

A note found in each half of a psalm tone on which much of the text is sung. Its duration is determined by the length of the text to which it is sung.

This is one of the "Episcopal Services" in the BOS. It is designed for the recognition, investiture, and seating of a bishop who has already been ordained and consecrated. The Presiding Bishop presides at this service, but another bishop may be deputized for the occasion. The service takes place in... Read More »

Sacramental rite in which those who repent may confess their sins to God in the presence of a priest and receive the assurance of pardon and the grace of absolution (BCP, p. 861). It is also called penance and confession. The church's ministry of reconciliation is from God, "who reconciled us to... Read More »

A person or incorporated organization of the Episcopal Church is elected by the House of Deputies upon nomination of the House of Bishops "to continue the List of Ordinations and to keep a list of the Clergy in regular standing." Each diocese must report annually to the recorder all persons... Read More »

The priest in charge of a parish. Typically, a rector is the priest in charge of a self-supporting parish, and a vicar is the priest in charge of a supported mission. The rector is the ecclesiastical authority of the parish. The term is derived from the Latin for "rule." The rector has authority... Read More »

A house owned by the parish and provided for the rector's home. Such provided housing has been known as "the parsonage" and "the manse" in other traditions. Read More »

Major feasts of the church year, including the principal feasts, feasts of our Lord, feasts of all apostles, evangelists, and other major saints' days and festivals. The term reflects the early practice of printing Prayer Book calendars in red. These major feasts were included in the Prayer... Read More »

The German word "redaction" is best translated as editing. The main point of this exegetical method is to find an understanding of the techniques and thoughts used by the redactor or final editor of a gospel. We have no specific information about who the gospel editors were, or when the editing was... Read More »

Savior. One who pays a price to buy back something, to liberate a person or a people from bondage, or to save a life that was legally forfeit. In the OT, the Lord God is the redeemer of Israel (see Ex 6:6; 2 Sm 7:23; Ps 130:7; Is 44:6, 54:5). God delivered Israel from bondage in Egypt and from the... Read More »

See Redeemer.

A room where meals are shared. The term is from the Latin, "to restore" or "refresh." This term has been applied to the room used for meals in monasteries or other religious houses. It may indicate a separate building. The term has also been used to indicate the room or building for meals on a... Read More »

The denomination emerged out of the high church---low church controversy of the mid-nineteenth century. Assistant Bishop David Cummins of Kentucky and Charles Edward Cheney, rector of Christ Church, Chicago, were both opposed to the hight church party and especially to the doctrine of baptismal... Read More »

Latin for "Queen of Heaven," the phrase refers to the Blessed Virgin Mary. Regina Coeli is also the beginning of a devotion, common in some Anglo-catholic circles, used during the Easter season in place of the Angelus. The customary bell-ringing sequence for Regina Coeli, at morning, noon, and... 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.