An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church

A - Z Glossary

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The Registrar maintains all journals and other records of the General Convention, and maintains records of all ordinations and consecrations of bishops in the Episcopal Church. The Registrar is a presbyter elected by the House of Deputies upon the nomination of the House of Bishops.

Historically, priests who have taken solemn vows and live in a religious community under a rule of life. The term "regular" is from the Latin, "rule." These priests may be distinguished from secular priests who do not live in a religious community.

The material remains of the body of a saint or martyr after death, such as bones, teeth, or hair. Relics may also include objects that have been in direct contact with the body of a saint or martyr in life, such as clothing, items used by the saint or martyr, or even instruments of torture. Relics... Read More »

1) Concerning religion or belief in the divine. 2) A technical term indicating a religious order or congregation in which the members voluntarily commit themselves by vows for life, or a term of years, to holding their possessions in common or in trust, to living a celibate life in community, and... Read More »

A place of residence for a religious community or a branch house operated by or for a religious order. The term may be used as a synonym for a monastery or convent, but it normally denotes a place of prayer or retreat which may or may not be administered by a religious community. The House of the... Read More »

The life that is lived under the obligation of the traditional vows in a religious community. In a broad sense it may designate the life of any person that is lived in awareness of God. See Conference on the Religious Life in the Anglican Communion in the Americas, The; see Monastic.

A society of Christians who voluntarily commit themselves for life or a term of years to living a celibate life in community, holding possessions in common with other community members, and obeying the rule or constitution of the community. A religious order must have at least six professed members... Read More »

A container for religious relics. It is used to protect and exhibit the relic. Reliquaries have often been made of precious metals or other costly materials or glass. Some reliquaries have been elaborately decorated with enamel, jewels, or paintings. Reliquaries have been made in a variety of... Read More »

(c. 438-c. 533). "Apostle of the Franks." He was born in Laon, France. At the age of twenty-two he was consecrated the Bishop of Reims. Remigius is remembered for converting Clovis, King of the Franks, to Christianity. Through Remigius's efforts, the Franks were converted to Nicene... Read More »

To remit is to refrain from enforcing a punishment. Remission of sins generally means forgiveness and absolution of sins. However, the suggestion of remitted punishment recalls a juridical understanding of sin and forgiveness that is no longer emphasized in the Episcopal Church. The "absolution and... Read More »

The enlivening and spiritual reawakening of the church through prayer and a variety of ministries and programs. These programs seek to revitalize the church by increasing Christian faith, devotion, and commitment. Many participants in the renewal movement attribute its success to the active... Read More »

When there are no candidates for baptism or Confirmation at the Easter Vigil, the celebrant leads the people in the Renewal of Baptismal Vows (BCP, pp. 292-294). The Renewal of Baptismal Vows traditionally follows the Easter Vigil readings. It may also follow the gospel and a sermon or homily. The... Read More »

A member of the clergy not under presentment for a canonical offense may renounce his or her orders and be removed from the active exercise of the ordained ministry. Removal upon renunciation means that the person is deprived of the right to exercise ordained ministry.

See Altar of Repose.

The reproaches are a traditional anthem based on OT prophetic passages (see Mi 6:3-4) and the Trisagion. It is sung at the Good Friday liturgy during the veneration of the cross. It is also called Improperia. It begins, "O my people, what have I done unto thee? or wherein have I wearied thee?... Read More »

A Mass or eucharist offered on behalf of the dead. It contains prayers appropriate to a funeral. If the Mass is immediately followed by burial it concludes with the prayer of commendation. The title originates from the first words for this rite in the Roman tradition, requiem aeternam dona eis,... Read More »

Decorations behind or above the altar. The reredos is typically a wooden screen, hanging, or panel. It may consist of stone, wood, jeweled metalwork, or drapery. The reredos may contain biblical scenes, scenes from the lives of the martyrs, statues of apostles and saints, panels inscribed with the... Read More »

Following ancient custom, the BCP provides that the consecrated bread and wine may be reserved for the communion of the sick or others who for "weighty cause" could not be present at the celebration or for administration of communion by a deacon to a congregation when a priest is unavailable (pp.... Read More »

A proposed action or decision that is to be considered by a legislative body such as the House of Bishops or the House of Deputies at General Convention, or at a diocesan convention, or at the gathering of another representative legislative body. The legislative vote is taken only on the substance... Read More »

A liturgical answer or statement that responds to a prayer, bidding, or reading. The response may be paired with and follow a versicle. For example, Suffrages A and B in Morning Prayer each contain a series of versicles and responses (BCP, pp. 97-98). The initial letter "R" indicates the responses... Read More »

A method of psalmody in which the minister alternates verse by verse with the congregation. This method of recitation has been most frequently used in Episcopal churches (see BCP, p. 582).

A method of psalmody in which the verses are sung by a solo voice, and a refrain is sung by the choir and congregation after each verse or group of verses. Responsorial recitation was the traditional method of singing the Venite. It was also a traditional manner of chanting the psalms between the... Read More »

A prayer with responses. For example, Suffrages A and B in Morning Prayer each contain a series of versicles and responses (BCP, pp. 55, 97-98).

A member of the clergy who has been suspended, removed, or deposed may be restored to active exercise of the ordained ministry under certain conditions. The technical term used is "remission of sentence." Bishops may be restored only by action of the House of Bishops. Priests and deacons may be... Read More »

The reinstatement in 1660 of the English monarchy under Charles II of the House of Stuart after the interregnum of the Commonwealth and Protectorate. On May 8, 1660, Charles II was proclaimed king by Parliament. He returned to England from the continent on May 25. With his return, the Church of... Read More »

A form in the BOS for restoring to sacred use a church building, an altar, or other consecrated objects that have been profaned. It may precede the first church service after an act of vandalism or desecration. Portions of the prayer may be repeated for pastoral reasons at subsequent services on... Read More »

The belief that Jesus was raised bodily from the dead by God on the third day after Jesus' crucifixion and burial, exalting him to the near presence of God in eternal glory. The resurrection of Jesus is at the heart of Christianity (Acts 2:22-36). Christian faith would be meaningless without... Read More »

The term may refer to a raised shelf or ledge behind the altar. This shelf is also called a gradine. The altar cross, altar lights, and vases of flowers may be placed on it. The tabernacle may also be placed on it. The term may also refer to a frame above and behind the altar for decorated panels... Read More »

A period of time, in a "place apart" from daily life and work, which normally includes silence, reflection, and may include some form of still, meditative prayer which may be combined with brief periods of activity and study. Retreats often focus on particular themes of the church year. Retreats... Read More »

1) Great respect, honor, or veneration. It may be associated with awe, devotion, and love. For example, the BCP notes the "Hebrew reverence and reticence with regard to the Name of God" (p. 583). The Preface to the 1789 BCP states that "the procuring of reverence, and the exciting of piety and... Read More »

An adjective used in formally addressing a member of the clergy. It is from the Latin reverendus, "worthy of reverence." It is intended to be descriptive. The term is incorrectly used as a noun title (like bishop or sister) to refer to a member of the clergy. For example, it is appropriate to say "... Read More »

A 1989 revision of the New English Bible (1970) that was intended to make it more suitable for public worship. "You" is used instead of "thou" in addressing God. The Revised English Bible also opted for inclusive language for people. The Roman Catholic Church joined the Protestant communions of the... Read More »

The RSV is a revision of the American Standard Version (ASV) of the Holy Scriptures (1901), which was an American modification of the British revised version of 1881-1885. In 1937 the project of revising the ASV was authorized by the National Council of Religious Education. The RSV was completed in... Read More »

A 1973 revision of the Revised Standard Version that was completed with the cooperation of members of the Protestant, Roman Catholic, and Eastern Orthodox churches. The inclusion of the Apocrypha or Deutero-canonical books with the thirty-nine books fo the Protestant canon make it acceptable to... Read More »

In 1870 the Convocation of Canterbury appointed a commission to revise the King James Version of the Bible. The intention was not to make a new translation but to make necessary changes called for by Hebrew and Greek manuscripts not available at the time of the Authorized Versions, and also to... Read More »

Christian worship characterized by intense and personal emotional experiences, fervent preaching, and extemporaneous prayer. It has served as a primary technique for evangelism in much of American Protestant Christianity. Several periods of revivalism swept through the American churches, beginning... 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.