An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church

A - Z Glossary

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See Angel.

A bishop with administrative and disciplinary authority over other bishops. In the Anglican Communion, an archbishop is the chief bishop of a province. The term is not used by any bishop in the Episcopal Church, where the chief bishop is known as the "Presiding Bishop, Primate, and Chief Pastor,"... Read More »

In the Church of England, the Archbishop of Canterbury is the "Primate of all England and Metropolitan" of the ecclesiastical province of Canterbury in southern England. In addition to a palace at Canterbury, the Archbishop of Canterbury also has a residence at Lambeth Palace in London.... Read More »

A clergyperson with a defined administrative authority delegated by the diocesan bishop. Originally the chief of the deacons who assisted the bishop, the archdeacon is now typically a priest who serves as the bishop's administrative assistant. The title of an archdeacon is "The Venerable,"... Read More »

The General Convention of 1940 appointed and designated the Church Historical Society "an official agency of General Convention for the collection, preservation, and safekeeping of records and historical documents connected with the life and development of the [Episcopal Church] . . . and to foster... Read More »

See Pyx, or Pix.

An effective and widely used mission strategy for ministry among small congregations unable to support a full-time priest. Churches "cluster" together to share ministry and resources. These clusters generally involve two to three congregations. Some of the benefits include: availability of special... Read More »

The 1973 General Convention changed the Canon "Of Missionary Jurisdictions," and created a new jurisdiction called an area mission. The House of Bishops may establish a mission in any area not included within the boundaries of a diocese of the Episcopal Church, or of a church in communion with the... Read More »

The teaching that the Son of God was a creature "of like substance" (homoiousios), though not identical with God. It is named for Arius, a fourth-century presbyter of Alexandria who made a highly influential (if not especially original) contribution to the discussion of the proper way to... Read More »

On Oct. 19, 1859, the House of Bishops created the Missionary District of the Southwest, which included Arizona. On Oct. 21, 1865, it created the Missionary Bishopric of Nevada with jurisdiction in Arizona. The Missionary Bishopric of New Mexico and Arizona was created by the House of Bishops on... Read More »

In 1904 Bishop William Montgomery Brown of Arkansas called for an institution of higher learning to be known as the "School of Theology of the Diocese of Arkansas." It was to be established at the State University, Fayetteville, to educate a group of "competent men who can and will work at the... Read More »

The House of Bishops nominated and the House of Deputies confirmed Leonidas Polk as Missionary Bishop of Arkansas and the Indian Territory. Polk was consecrated on Dec. 9, 1838, and served until Oct. 16, 1841, when he was elected Bishop of Louisiana. From Oct. 18, 1841, until Oct. 10, 1844, James... Read More »

The title was given to the revision of the World War II Prayer Book for Soldiers and Sailors issued in 1951 at the time of the Korean War for the Armed Forces Division of the Episcopal Church. It contained many items not in the BCP, mostly of a devotional nature, including forms for emergency... Read More »

The Constitution of the Episcopal Church states that it is "lawful for the House of Bishops to elect a Suffragan Bishop who, under the direction of the Presiding Bishop, shall be in charge of the work of those chaplains in the Armed Forces of the United States, Veterans' Administration Medical... Read More »

See Thirty-Nine Articles, or Articles of Religion.

The occasion on which the risen Christ is taken into heaven after appearing to his followers for forty days (Acts 1:1-11, Mk 16:19). The Ascension marks the conclusion of Jesus' post-resurrection appearances. It is the final elevation of his human nature to divine glory and the near presence... Read More »

The discipline of strict self control at all levels of body, feeling, thought, and imagination. Ascetic practices are not ends in themselves. Asceticism is best practiced as a way to overcome obstacles to the soul's love of God rather than self-denial for its own sake. Asceticism is intended... Read More »

The first of the forty days of Lent, named for the custom of placing blessed ashes on the foreheads of worshipers at Ash Wednesday services. The ashes are a sign of penitence and a reminder of mortality, and may be imposed with the sign of the cross. Ash Wednesday is observed as a fast in the... Read More »

Ashes blessed for use on Ash Wednesday as a sign of penitence and a reminder of mortality. The OT frequently mentions the use of ashes as an expression of humiliation and sorrow. Ashes for use on Ash Wednesday are made from burned palms from previous Palm Sunday services. Ashes are imposed on the... Read More »

See Western North Carolina, Diocese of.

The liturgical practice of sprinkling with holy water as a reminder of baptism. The term comes from the Latin version of Ps 51, "Thou shalt sprinkle me with hyssop." The asperges may be done after the Renewal of Baptismal Vows at the Easter Vigil. It may also be done as a preparatory ceremony... Read More »

Brush, branch, metal rod, or other instrument used to sprinkle holy water at the asperges.

A means of baptism in which the candidate is sprinkled with water. The BCP instead requires immersion (dipping most of the candidate's body in water) or affusion (pouring water on the candidate). Read More »

A person seeking ordination as a deacon or priest, or a person who desires to be admitted to a religious order. When an aspirant has received approval from the diocese to begin seminary or other required training, he or she becomes a postulant. An aspirant to a religious order is one who is... Read More »

A bishop who assists the diocesan bishop by providing additional episcopal services. An assistant bishop is appointed by the diocesan bishop, with the approval of the Standing Committee of the diocese. The assistant bishop must already be exercising episcopal jurisdiction as a diocesan bishop, or... Read More »

The name of a house of clergy and laity living under a common rule but no formal vows, subject to episcopal oversight, for evangelization and for educational and charitable enterprises. The first associate mission was Nashotah House, Wisconsin (1842), followed by other early foundations such as... Read More »

The belief that the Mother of Jesus was taken up body and soul into heaven. Though not in scripture, it was described in apocryphal stories of the fifth century. It originated in the lack of scriptural data on Mary's death. It found support in the absence of bodily relics of the Virgin, in... Read More »

Statement of faith dating from the fourth or fifth centuries. It is also known by its opening Latin words as the Quicunque Vult, "Whosoever will be saved, before all things it is necessary that he hold the Catholic Faith." The creed is attributed to St. Athanasius (296-373), but this attribution... Read More »

(c. 296-373). Bishop and theologian. He was born in Egypt and educated at the catechetical school in Alexandria, where he was profoundly influenced by Bishop Alexander. Athanasius was ordained deacon in 319, and immediately became an opponent of the presbyter Arius, who taught that the second... Read More »

(Aug. 6, 1807-Jan. 4, 1881). Bishop and advocate of the religious education of African Americans. He was born on his father's plantation, Mansfield, Dinwiddie County, Virginia. He attended Yale and graduated from Hampden Sidney College. Atkinson prepared for the ministry after studying law and... Read More »

The General Convention of 1907 voted to divide the Diocese of Georgia, and the primary convention of the Diocese of Atlanta met at Christ Church, Macon, Dec. 4-5, 1907. The Diocese of Atlanta consists of the following counties: Baldwin, Banks, Barrow, Bartow, Bibb, Butts, Carroll, Catoosa,... Read More »

The term (literally, "at + one + ment") has been applied since the earliest English translations of the Bible to the sacrificial ceremonies in the Hebrew temple on Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement). It has come to be applied universally to God's reconciling work accomplished by the death of Christ.... Read More »

The term indicated the main court of a Roman house. It was also used to describe the covered court in front of the main doors of a church or basilica. People entered the church through the atrium.

Imperfect repentance for sin, possibly due to fear of punishment or displeasure at the sin itself. Attrition has been distinguished from contrition since the twelfth century. Contrition is motivated by love of God, causing the penitent to regret sin as evidence of a turning away from God who loves... Read More »

(Jan. 26, 1722-Mar. 4, 1777). Early proponent of an American episcopate. He was born in Boston and graduated from Harvard in 1742. The Bishop of London ordained him deacon on Mar. 8, 1747, and priest on Mar. 15, 1747. In 1748 he became the assistant minister at Trinity Church, New York, and also... Read More »

(d. May 26, 604 or 605). First Archbishop of Canterbury. He began his career as prior of St. Andrew's monastery in Rome. Pope Gregory the Great sent Augustine and some other monks to England in 597 to refound the church in England. They arrived in Kent and began their missionary work. King... 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.