An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church

A - Z Glossary

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(Feb. 4, 1884-Sept. 13, 1977). Founder of the Episcopal Peace Fellowship. He was born in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. Sayre received his B.A. from Princeton in 1907 and his B.D. from Union Theological Seminary, New York, in 1910. He was ordained deacon on Oct. 31, 1911, and priest on Nov. 7, 1912. In... Read More »


" See Oil, Holy.

A sleeveless garment that hangs from the shoulders to the ankles. The term is derived from the Latin for "shoulder-blades." The scapular is a wide band of material, usually black, with an opening for the head. It forms part of the regular monastic habit for many religious orders. It is typically... Read More »

See Tippet.

(May 6, 1831-Oct. 15, 1906). Missionary bishop and translator. He was born in Tauroggen, Russian Lithuania, to Jewish parents. He became convinced that he should become a Christian and in 1854 came to the United States. He decided to enter the Presbyterian ministry and studied at Western... Read More »

This word of Greek origin means a rip, tear, split, or division. In ecclesiastical terms, it is a formal and willful separation from the unity of the church. The term is used in the NT for any kind of quarrel or division. Its meaning was later restricted to divisions of the church having a non-... Read More »

A school for church singers. The first Roman schola cantorum has been dated from the fourth century. It provided music for papal masses. The Roman schola cantorum was reorganized by Gregory the Great (c. 540-604), who served as Pope from 590 to 604. Gregorian Chant developed in the Roman schola... Read More »

A movement or approach to theology in Christianity which developed during the middle ages. It flourished from the time of Anselm of Canterbury (1033-1109) until the beginning of the "modern" period in the philosophy of Descartes (1596-1650). It included such noted theologians and philosophers as... Read More »

See Arkansas Theological Chautauqua School.

One of the recognized, accredited seminaries of the Episcopal Church. The first meeting of the trustees of the University of the South was held at Lookout Mountain, Tennessee, on July 4, 1857. The cornerstone was laid at Sewanee, Tennessee, on Oct. 10, 1860, but the Civil War delayed the... Read More »

(Mar. 12, 1808-July 14, 1867). First Missionary Bishop of Oregon and Washington Territory. He was born in Iredell County, North Carolina. Scott graduated from Franklin College, now the University of Georgia, Athens, Georgia, in 1829. He was licensed to preach in the Presbyterian Church and served... Read More »

This word comes from the Latin for "writings" and refers to a collection of the most important documents in a given religious community. Many different religions have scriptures. The term "canon," which means a rule or listing, refers to the list of items included in a scripture. The word "Bible... Read More »

(Dec. 15, 1861-Oct. 9, 1954). Educator and Christian Socialist. She was born in Madura, India, and was initially named Julia Davida. Her father was a Congregationalist missionary. She and her mother returned to Auburndale, Massachusetts after he died. When she was a teenager, she and her mother... Read More »

See Seabury-Western Theological Seminary.

A church-owned publishing house that was sold in 1984. Lewis Bliss Whittemore (1885-1965), Bishop of Western Michigan, called attention to the lack of progress in Christian education throughout the Episcopal Church in 1946. The result of his action was a revitalized, reorganized Department of... Read More »

A comprehensive parish education program of the Episcopal Church that was published between 1948 and 1970. The program included a series of six basic books, The Church's Teaching Series, which became the foundational subject matter resource of the adult materials and of the publications for... Read More »

(Nov. 30, 1729-Feb. 25, 1796). First bishop in the Episcopal Church. He was born in Groton, Connecticut, and graduated from Yale College in 1748. He read theology under his father and then studied medicine at the University of Edinburgh, 1752-1753. Seabury was ordained deacon on Dec. 21, 1753, and... Read More »

(June 9, 1801-Oct. 10, 1872). Priest, educator, and editor. The grandson and namesake of the first bishop of the Episcopal Church, he was born in New London, Connecticut. Although he was unable to obtain a formal college education, he pursued classical and theological studies privately. He was... Read More »

An accredited seminary of the Episcopal Church, located in Evanston, Illinois. Seabury-Western was the result of the merger of Seabury Divinity School, Faribault, Minnesota, and the Western Theological Seminary, Chicago, on July 1, 1933. Seabury Divinity School was founded in 1858 by James Lloyd... Read More »

After baptism, the bishop or priest places a hand on the head of the newly baptized person, marking the forehead with the sign of the cross, addressing each one by name and saying, "You are sealed by the Holy Spirit in Baptism and marked as Christ's own for ever" (BCP, p. 308). This marking of the... Read More »

A penitent may seek a priest for listening to his or her confession of sins, declaring genuine sorrow and promising amendment of life together with restitution, where possible, to those wronged. The priest in turn gives counsel, penance, and absolution. It is understood by both that the confession... Read More »

See Episcopal Church Flag and Seal.

A group charged to identify candidates for the position of bishop, rector, or other ministry in the life of the church. It may be the responsibility of the search committee to clarify the job description and identify the qualifications that are needed for the job. It is often the responsibility of... Read More »

The BOS provides seasonal blessings for Advent, Christmas season, Epiphany, Easter season, the Day of Pentecost, the First Sunday after Pentecost: Trinity Sunday, and All Saints. In place of a seasonal blessing in Lent, a solemn Prayer over the People (Super Populum) is used. The seasonal blessings... Read More »

See Quaerite Dominum.

This service is used to deconsecrate and secularize a consecrated building that is to be taken down or used for other purposes. The form for this service is provided by the BOS. The presiding minister may be the bishop or a deputy appointed by the bishop. The altar and all consecrated and dedicated... Read More »

At this traditional Jewish Passover meal the story of the Exodus (haggadah) is read and ritual actions are performed. The seder today consists of fourteen elements: 1) Kiddush, the blessing of wine and the day, 2) Urehatz, washing of hands, 3) Karpas, eating green herbs, 4) Yachatz, breaking the... Read More »

This triple seat in the sanctuary of a church is for the celebrant, deacon, and sub-deacon at solemn Mass. It is usually a bench with a back divided into thirds. In some stone churches the sedilia are incorporated into the north wall of the sanctuary. Today, the use of a single seat for the... Read More »


The bishop's throne or chair. The term is from the Latin, "seat." The episcopal throne is a symbol of the bishop's authority and jurisdiction. It is typically located in the cathedral of the diocese. By extension, the location of the cathedral or church with the bishop's throne is... Read More »

A ministry providing Christian Education materials. It has a special concern to address the needs of very small churches. The Rev. Betty Works Fuller began publishing a Sunday School curriculum in 1977 for St. James Church, La Grange, Texas. Other churches joined her in the effort. By 1979 the... Read More »

(Apr. 5, 1809-Apr. 11, 1878). First Church of England Bishop of New Zealand. He was born in Hempstead, London, England. Selwyn was educated at Eton and St. John's College, Cambridge. He was ordained priest in 1833. After parish work at Windsor and tutoring at Eton, he was consecrated the first... Read More »

A seminary student. See Seminary.

Theological school for training ordained and lay leaders of the church. Those seeking to be ordained typically participate in a three-year course of studies leading to the Master of Divinity degree. First-year students are called "juniors," second-year students are called "middlers," and third-year... Read More »

See Wardens of a Parish.

Sentences of scripture that may be used at the beginning of Morning and Evening Prayer. These sentences may relate the office to the season, day, or time of worship. The opening sentences may also recall a general theme of Christian worship, and draw the congregation together for prayer as the... Read More »

Words said by the ministers of the eucharist at the distribution of the consecrated bread and wine during the communion of the people.


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.