An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church

A - Z Glossary

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(Feb. 24, 1792-Sept. 21, 1854). Bishop and music editor. He was born in Liverpool, England, and came to the United States in 1803. He graduated from Harvard in 1812. Wainwright was ordained deacon on Apr. 13, 1817, and priest on May 29, 1818. He was assistant minister, Trinity Church, New York,... Read More »

A vigil or watch in the presence of the body of a deceased person prior to burial. It may be in the church, a funeral parlor, or a home. The observance of this funeral custom is separate from the funeral or burial liturgy. Prayers may be offered for the deceased and the grieving. The wake may also... Read More »

(July 27, 1925-Sept. 30, 1989). Bishop and first African American to graduate from the Virginia Theological Seminary. He was born in Barnesville, Georgia. He received his B.A. from Wayne State University in 1951 and his B.D. from the Virginia Theological Seminary in 1954. Walker was ordained deacon... Read More »

Officers of a parish. Two wardens are typically selected to serve with members of the vestry. The wardens are generally ranked "senior" and "junior." The mode of selection and duties of the wardens are determined by state law, diocesan canon, or parish by-laws. The senior warden is usually the... Read More »

(Dec. 2, 1869-Apr. 25, 1962). Priest and seminary professor. He was born in Worcester, Massachusetts. Washburn received his B.A. from Harvard in 1891 and his B.D. from the Episcopal Theological School in 1894. He was ordained deacon on June 20, 1894, and priest on Sept. 29, 1896. Washburn began his... Read More »

See Foot Washing.

It is customary for the altar to be stripped after the Maundy Thursday liturgy. The BOS appoints Ps 22 and an antiphon for use if the stripping of the altar is observed as a public ceremony. Stripping the altar may be followed by the washing of the altar. Historically, the stripping and washing of... Read More »

College formerly associated with the Episcopal Church. In early 1780 the Rev. William Smith became the principal of Kent County Free School, Chestertown, Maryland, which began instruction around 1729-1730. Kent School became Washington College on May 24, 1782, by virtue of a charter granted by the... Read More »

See Trinity College, Hartford, Connecticut.

See Cathedral Church of Saint Peter and Saint Paul in the City and Diocese of Washington, The.

This monthly journal first appeared in Aug. 1819 and was founded and edited by William Holland Wilmer. Any profits were to go to the Society for the Education of Pious Young Men for the Ministry, and the American Colonization Society. With the Aug. 1823 issue the title was extended to the... Read More »

The 1895 General Convention voted to divide the Diocese of Maryland and form the Diocese of Washington. The new diocese includes the District of Columbia and four Maryland counties: Charles, Prince George's, Montgomery, and St. Mary's. The primary convention of the Diocese was held at St... Read More »

(Feb. 22, 1732-Dec. 14, 1799). First President of the United States and Episcopal vestryman. He was born on the family estate "Wakefield" in Westmoreland County, Virginia. Washington was baptized on Apr. 5, 1732, "according to conformity of the Church of England." He served in the Virginia House of... Read More »

A period of "staying awake" for spiritual reasons. Traditionally, watches have been kept before the Blessed Sacrament on the night of Maundy Thursday at the "Altar of Repose." Watches may also be kept to provide prayer and comfort for the sick or the dying. The term derives in part from Christ... Read More »

This periodical appeared in Mar. 1819 and was published in New Haven, Connecticut. There was probably only one issue since no trace of any other issue has appeared.

Water is a major element in religious rituals. It is a natural symbol of birth, fertility, life, and cleansing. To emerge from the waters is to be clean and fresh and new. To wash the body, or even the hands, is symbolically to become clean in an interior sense. Ritually, water is a symbol of... Read More »

(July 17, 1674-Nov. 25, 1748). Nonconformist clergyman. He was born in Southampton, England. He served from 1699 to 1702 as assistant and from 1702 until 1712 as pastor of an independent church in Mark Lane, London. Watts was never robust, and he went into semi-retirement in 1712 at the home of Sir... Read More »

(Jan. 16, 1863-Feb. 8, 1940). Founder of the Church Unity Octave, which was a precursor of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. He was born in Millington, Maryland, and baptized Lewis Thomas Wattson. He received his B.A. (1882) and his M.A. (1885) from St. Stephen's (Bard) College and his B... Read More »

A devotion to the Passion of Christ which recalls a series of events at the end of Jesus' life from his condemnation to his burial. The Way of the Cross imitates the practice of visiting the places of Jesus' Passion in the Holy Land by early Christian pilgrims. The first stations outside... Read More »

Founded in 1941 by Bishop Henry Wise Hobson of Southern Ohio, this program provided a "church on wheels" to minister in areas with no Episcopal parish. Its inspiration was a portable office used by Standard Oil. The name "Wayside Cathedral" was suggested by the decision to demolish and not replace... Read More »

This hymnal, edited by Robert N. Roth and Nancy L. Roth, consists of 108 hymns or selections of service music from The Hymnal 1982 which were chosen with children's understanding of texts and their vocal abilities in mind. A Teacher's Guide, also edited by the Roths, provides commentaries... Read More »

See Rings.

(Aug. 26, 1908-Aug. 24, 1986). First woman to serve as president of the National Council of Churches. Cynthia Clark was born in Dearborn, Michigan. She grew up in Evanston, Illinois. She earned a B.A. and M.A. from Northwestern University and a Ph.D. from George Washington University in 1957. She... Read More »

(Feb. 19, 1892-July 20, 1970). Preacher, lecturer, and educator. He was born in Halstead, Kansas. Wedel received his B.A. from Oberlin College in 1914, his M.A. from Harvard in 1915, and his Ph.D. from Yale University in 1918. He was instructor in English at Yale, 1919-1922, professor of English at... Read More »

" Booklets printed for Scottish nonjuring Episcopalians that contained the liturgy of the table portion of the eucharistic rite. The first (1722) reproduced that of the 1637 Scottish BCP. Its eucharistic prayer contained elements from the eucharistic prayer of the 1549 BCP that were missing in... Read More »

This observance began on St. Peter's Day, June 29, 1900, when Spencer Jones, a Church of England priest, preached a sermon on closer relations with the Church of Rome. Jones urged that sermons be preached on St. Peter's Day emphasizing Rome as the center of unity. Paul James Wattson, an... Read More »

(Oct. 11, 1759-May 23, 1825). First person ordained by the Church of England for the Episcopal Church after the American Revolution. Weems was born near Herring Creek, Anne Arundel, Maryland. He studied medicine in London and at the University of Edinburgh but never practiced. Weems was ordained... Read More »

(b. Jan. 18, 1920). Leading advocate for the ordination of women in the Episcopal Church. He was born in Mitchell, South Dakota. Wendt received his B.A. from George Washington University in 1948 and his S.T.B. from the General Theological Seminary in 1951. Wendt was ordained deacon on June 16, 1951... Read More »

(Dec. 18, 1708-Mar. 29, 1788). English hymn writer, priest, and missionary to colonial America. He was born in Epworth, England, the eighteenth child of Samuel and Susannah Wesley. Wesley graduated from St. Peter's College, Westminster, London, in 1721 and from Christ Church, Oxford, in 1726.... Read More »

(June 17, 1703-Mar. 2, 1791). Generally considered the founder of Methodism. He was born in Epworth, England, the fifteenth of nineteen children born to Samuel and Susannah Wesley. He entered Christ Church College, Oxford, in 1720 and was ordained deacon in 1725. After serving as a curate to his... Read More »

(Aug. 14, 1810-Apr. 19, 1876). English church musician and composer. He was born in London, the grandson of Charles Wesley. Wesley studied music at Oxford University and was organist at Hereford Cathedral, 1832-1835; Exeter Cathedral, 1835-1842; Leeds Parish Church, 1842-1849; Winchester Cathedral... Read More »

The 1982 General Convention voted to divide the Diocese of Tennessee into three dioceses-Tennessee, East Tennessee, and West Tennessee. The Diocese of West Tennessee includes the following counties: Benton, Carroll, Chester, Crockett, Decatur, Dyer, Fayette, Gibson, Hardeman, Hardin, Haywood,... Read More »

On Oct. 26, 1874, the General Convention voted to divide the Diocese of Texas and form the Missionary District of Northern Texas and the Missionary District of Western Texas. The primary convention of the Missionary District of Western Texas met at St. Mark's Church, San Antonio, on May 6-8,... Read More »

West Virginia was part of the Diocese of Virginia until 1877. The General Convention of 1877 created the Diocese of West Virginia, which held its primary convention at St. John's Church, Charleston, on Dec. 5-7, 1877. The diocese does not have a cathedral. It includes the entire state. Read More »

(Nov. 5, 1909-Jan. 3, 1990). Leading theologian and liturgist. He was born in Boston. West received his B.S. from Boston University in 1931 and his B.D. from the General Theological Seminary in 1934. He was ordained deacon on June 13, 1934, and priest on May 31, 1935. After seven years of ministry... Read More »

The 1892 General Convention voted to divide the Diocese of Colorado and establish the Missionary District of Western Colorado. The Missionary District of Western Colorado included the following counties: Archuleta, Delta, Dolores, Eagle, Garfield, Grand, Gunnison, Hinsdale, La Plata, Mesa,... 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.