An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church

A - Z Glossary

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An association of those who live in the secular world while affiliated with a religious order. Although the members of the third order do not live in a religious community, they share the spirit and some of the practices of the order. The members of the third order, known as tertiaries, may have a... Read More »

See Mission Services (Third Services).

The Thirty-Nine Articles were the result of a long process in which the Church of England attempted to provide a theological foundation for its existence during the doctrinal conflicts of the sixteenth century. The conflicts arose from the competing views between Protestants and Roman Catholics as... Read More »

(c. 1380-1471). Monastic, priest, and spiritual writer. He was born in Kempen near Koln, Germany. Kempis was educated in the school at Deventer, the Netherlands. It was run by the Brethren of the Common Life, who stressed the necessity of imitating the life of Christ by loving one's neighbor... Read More »

Also called Didymus, the twin, Thomas is identified as an apostle in all the lists of the apostles (Mt 10:3, Mk 3:18, Lk 6:15, Acts 1:13), and he has an important role in John's gospel. Thomas boldly urges his fellow disciples to go with Jesus to Bethany in Judea, despite the dangers they will... Read More »

The theological system of St. Thomas Aquinas (1224/25-1275), embodied in his Summa Theologica. Adapting Aristotle's philosophy to Christian revelation, Thomas defined God as Primary Being, in whom alone essence and existence are one. The Three Persons subsist in the divine Essence, with which... Read More »

(June 5, 1830-Nov. 18, 1902). Bishop and theologian. He was born in Londonderry, Ireland. Thompson came to the United States when he was six years old and later studied at Nashotah House. He was ordained deacon on June 6, 1852, and priest on Aug. 31, 1856. His early ministry was spent as a... Read More »

(Nov. 1807-Apr. 26, 1864). One of the first Episcopal foreign missionaries. She was born in Connecticut to former slave parents. She was a member of the Charitable Society in the African Sunday School at Hartford. In 1830 Mars volunteered to serve as a teacher in Liberia. Though church authorities... Read More »

A structure in which the clerk's pew was on the lowest level, the officiant's reading pew was on the middle level, and the pulpit was on the highest level. It was typically located in the nave. With this arrangement, the sermon was preached from the highest level of the structure. The "... Read More »

The bishop's official and ceremonial seat. It is also known as the cathedra, from the Latin for chair. It is typically located in the cathedral of the diocese. The term "cathedral" is derived from cathedra, in that the cathedral is the church where the bishop's chair is located. The... Read More »

A small metal pot on chains in which incense is burned during the eucharist and other liturgies. The thurible is also known as a censer. The term is derived from the Latin for "incense." Fragrant smoke is produced when incense is spooned onto hot charcoals inside the thurible. The smoke escapes... Read More »

The server or acolyte who carries and swings the thurible in which incense is burned during the eucharist and other liturgies. The thurifer, the celebrant, the deacon, or other ministers may use the thurible in the ceremonial censing of people or objects such as the gospel book or altar. The... Read More »

A stained glass window by the American artist Louis Comfort Tiffany (1848-1933). Tiffany was a native of New York City. He used an original process for making opalescent glass which was called "favrile." Tiffany built a factory at Cirona, New York, in 1878 to produce this glass. These stained glass... Read More »

(Oct. 5, 1829-Aug. 20, 1907). Episcopal Church historian. He was born in Baltimore, Maryland. Tiffany received his M.A. from Dickinson College in 1853. He studied at the Andover Theological Seminary. He also studied at the Universities of Halle, Heidelberg, and Berlin. Tiffany was ordained deacon... Read More »

(1 Thes 3:2; see also Rom 16:21). He is credited by Paul with co-authoring Paul's Second Letter to the Corinthians, and Paul's Letters to the Philippians, the Colossians, and to Philemon. Timothy and Silvanus are identified as co-authors of Paul's First and Second Letters to the... Read More »

(See Tyndale, or Tindal, William.)

A large black scarf worn by clergy over surplice and cassock at the Daily Offices. It resembles a stole and is worn around the neck with the ends hanging down the front. It may be ornamented by emblems such as the Episcopal Church seal or the insignia of the wearer's seminary. Read More »

A tenth of a person's income, usually mandated for sacred purposes. Tithing was a practice in Israel but not unique to Israel. It was well known throughout the ancient Near East from at least the fourteenth century B.C., particularly in Mesopotamia. The first reference to a tithe in the OT is... Read More »

(2 Cor 8:23). Titus and Barnabas went with Paul to Jerusalem at the time of the apostolic council (c. 50) (Gal 2:1). This council decided to accept Gentiles as full members of the church. Although Titus was a Greek, he was not compelled to be circumcised (Gal 2:3). Paul sent Titus as his... Read More »

The House of Bishops voted on Oct. 27, 1920, to divide the Missionary District of Tokyo and establish the Missionary District of Tohoku. In Apr. 1941 the Missionary District of Tohoku became a diocese in the Holy Catholic Church in Japan.

The 1872 General Convention established the Missionary District of Yedo in Japan. In 1893 the name was changed to the Missionary District of Tokyo. On Oct. 15, 1925, the name was changed to the Missionary District of North Tokyo. In 1938 the name was changed again to the Missionary District of... Read More »

A traditional shaving of the head for monks and diocesan clergy. The tonsure was a point of friction between Celtic and Latin monks in the British Isles of the seventh and eighth centuries. The Celtic monks shaved the fore part of the head; Latin monks shaved the center part of the head, leaving a... Read More »

A Latin title for a medieval psalm tone. In translation it means a foreign or wandering tone. In the psalm tone, Tonus peregrinus, there is a different pitch for the reciting tone for each half of the chant. Historically it is associated with the singing of Ps. 114, which triumphantly recalls "when... Read More »

A Hebrew noun coming from the verb "to teach." It has the basic meaning of teaching or instruction, but it is usually translated law. Although in the OT it can refer to teaching, it most commonly indicates that which comes from God. It first seems to have been used for a single commandment (e.g.,... Read More »

An acolyte or server who carries a torch in procession, including the gospel procession. See Torches.

Candles mounted on poles for use in the liturgy. Lighted torches may be carried by acolytes or servers in procession, including the gospel procession. Torches may be placed near the altar and the ambo or lectern. Torches are used to enhance the solemnity and festivity of worship. See Pavement... Read More »

See Loyalists.

A model of pastoral oversight based on the development of the ministry of the whole church, lay and ordained. This model seeks to provide a comprehensive program for the education of the laity for ministry. It also seeks to insure that the laity are able to exercise their ministry by sharing fully... Read More »

1) (Liturgical) Psalm verses that were sung or recited without antiphon or refrain before the gospel. Historically, the Tract took the place of the Alleluia during the penitential seasons of Pre-Lent and Lent and at Masses for the dead. The festal character of Easter was expressed when the Alleluia... Read More »

See Oxford Movement; see Tracts for the Times.

Ninety publications issued by the leaders of the Oxford Movement in England. The first tract, Thoughts on the Ministerial Commission, Respectfully Addressed to the Clergy, was written by John Henry Newman and appeared on Sept. 9, 1833. Tract 90, Remarks on Certain Passages in the Thirty-Nine... Read More »

In Christian theology, tradition originally referred simply to that which had been handed down to the church from the prophets and the apostles concerning belief in God and God's redemptive work in Christ. Before the development of an authorized canon of Hebrew and Christian scriptures, the... Read More »

In a cruciform or cross-shaped church building, the parts of the building which are the two lateral arms of the cross. The transepts extend from the nave and chancel.

Feast that celebrates Jesus' radical change of appearance while in the presence of Peter, James, and John, on a high mountain (Mt 17:1-8; Mk 9:2-8; Lk 9:28-36). The Gospel of Matthew records that "he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his garments became white as... Read More »

The belief that the substance (essence) of Christ's body and blood replaces the substance of the eucharistic bread and wine, although the appearances (known as "accidents" or "species") of the bread and wine continue outwardly unchanged. This eucharistic theology is based on the philosophical... Read More »

The process of Prayer Book revision has been ongoing since the sixteenth century. The first Episcopal Prayer Book began with a process of trial use. The 1786 Proposed Prayer Book was the basis for the 1789 BCP, which was the first official Prayer Book in the Episcopal Church. During the twentieth... 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.