An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church

A - Z Glossary

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Glossary

This term describes the birth of Jesus. Jesus' mother was Mary, and he was conceived through the power of the Holy Spirit, without a human father. Mary's virginity at the time of Jesus' birth is mentioned specifically in the gospels of Matthew (Ch. 1) and Luke (Ch. 1). Although... Read More »

The Virgin Islands became a part of the Missionary District of Puerto Rico in 1919. The House of Bishops established the Missionary District of the Virgin Islands in 1947, but it was still under the care of the Missionary Bishop of Puerto Rico. The first Missionary Bishop of the Virgin Islands,... Read More »

See Mary the Virgin, Mother of our Lord Jesus Christ, Saint.

On Apr. 10, 1606, King James I of England chartered two companies to settle, respectively, the southern and northern portions of the land claimed by England in America. The Virginia Company was to settle the south and the Plymouth Company was to settle the north. In 1607 the Virginia Company... Read More »

See Protestant Episcopal Theological Seminary in Virginia, The, Alexandria, Virginia (VTS).

Organized in Richmond on May 18, 1785. The 1892 General Convention divided the diocese and today it includes the following counties: Albemarle, Arlington, Caroline, Charles City, Clark, Culpeper, Essex, Fairfax, Fauquier, Fluvanna, Frederick, Gloucester, Goochland, Greene, Hanover, Henrico, King... Read More »

The Gospel of Luke, Chapter 1, records that at the time of the Annunciation, Mary learned her relative Elizabeth was miraculously pregnant. Mary went to visit Elizabeth and greeted her. At this greeting the child leaped in Elizabeth's womb. Her child was John the Baptist. Elizabeth was filled with... Read More »

Traditional term for the pastoral office of Ministration to the Sick (BCP, p. 453). It may include one or more of the following: ministry of the word, laying on of hands and anointing, and Holy Communion. These parts are used in the order indicated if two or more are used together. The Lord's... Read More »

See Episcopal Visitation.

Vocare is a form of the Latin word meaning "to call." The Vocare weekend is a renewal weekend for young adults, ages nineteen to thirty. At this time they face many serious decisions which set the direction for much of their adult life. The focus of the weekend is "Let yourself hear Christ's... Read More »

From the Latin vocare, "to call," vocation is the "calling" one infers from the external and internal signs which evolve over time. Vocation may involve a task or job, but it also concerns a way of life. All Christian vocations-lay or ordained, single or married or religious-are specific... Read More »

(See Hermann von Wied of Cologne.)

A historically African American, coeducational, liberal arts college affiliated with the Episcopal Church. Voorhees was founded by Elizabeth Evelyn Wright (1872-1906) as the Denmark Industrial School. It opened on Apr. 14, 1897. In 1902 the name was changed to Voorhees Industrial School in honor of... Read More »

Eucharistic celebration in which the proper collect, psalms, and readings concern a particular devotion. A votive may be chosen for pastoral reasons when no other celebration is required by the calendar of the church year. The BCP provides twenty-five propers for Various Occasions, including "Of... Read More »

These are short thick candles inserted into small glass cups which worshipers may light as an act of devotion. They may be placed on shelves or stands in front of the Blessed Sacrament, or in front of pictures or statues of Our Lord or saints. Votive lights may also be used in the home, especially... Read More »

Formal pledges or promises. All Christian vows are ultimately based in the promises made in the baptismal covenant (BCP, pp. 304-305). Vows may give form and particularity to the baptismal covenant in the person's life. In the Christian tradition, vows often reflect a life commitment to a... Read More »

(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 »

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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.