Sometimes it may seem that we
Episcopalians go out of our way to use strange words to confuse
outsiders. We hope that is not the case. Sometimes we use those words
to honor our tradition. Sometimes we need special words to label things
or practices that are different enough to need a special word to
Here are some definitions of words
used in this site or in our worship that may be new to you.
(See also FAQs--Frequently
||Advent is the
first season of the Church
Year. It starts the fourth Sunday before Christmas and ends
on Christmas Day, December 25. It is a season of expectancy and
preparation for the coming of God to earth in birth of Jesus on Christmas. "O come,
o come, Emmanuel," is typical of hymns sung during this season.
(Emmanuel means "God with us."). The liturgical color for
advent is Advent is purple, the color of preparation and penitence or
Marian Blue in honor of Mary.
||The words mean
"Lamb of God" and refer to Jesus. It is from "Here is the the lamb of
God, who takes away the sin of the world" in John 1:29. A
hymn using those words is sometimes said or sung during the communion
service: "O lamb of God, you take away the sin of the world, have mercy
on us. O lamb of God, you take away the sin of the world, have mercy on
us. O lamb of God, you take away the sin of the world, give us your
English. The Anglican Communion is the worldwide collection
of autonomous national churches in communion with the Church of
England. In addition to the Church of England, it includes such churches
as the Anglican Church of Canada, the Church of Nigeria and the Episcopal Church
of the United States of America. The titular head of the Anglican Communion is
the Archbishop of Canterbury, who is also the head of the Church of England.
||The Grace Church
congregation meets early every to elect senior and
junior wardens, mission council members and delegates to diocesan
convention. Reports from the past year and plans for the
future are presented and members of the congregation may comment.
||Baptism is the
sacrament by which we are made full members
of Christ's body, the
church. Baptism with water in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit,
by whomever it is administered, is an act of God, and transcends denominational
boundaries. Thus, baptism need not--in fact, should not--be repeated.
In the Episcopal Church, baptisms are
typically done at a service of public worship by an ordained person, but
may be done at any time by anyone in an emergency. Baptism,
being an act of God, may be conferred on infants. For another statement, see the
Baptism FAQ. Also, see Confirmation.
||A bishop is
responsible for a Diocese.
Our bishop heads the Episcopal Diocese of
Southern Ohio. A bishop is consecrated by other
bishops and as such is seen as a successor to the Twelve Apostles. The word
"episcopal" is derived from the Greek word "episcopos" meaning
"overseer." In Old English it became "biscop," which came to be
pronounced "bishop" and later spelled that way too.
||The Book of
Common Prayer contains the official liturgy
of the Episcopal Church. It is a collection of prayers, readings,
psalms, devotions, and worship services. Nearly all services in any
Episcopal Church will be printed in this book. The word
"common" is used in the sense of being held in common, the property of
all. Thus, there are copies in every pew for use by all
worshippers. The common use of the BCP is the basis for the
high degree of congregational participation typical of Anglican
||A set of rules
that govern a church (as in canon law). See the canons of the Episcopal
Diocese of Southern Ohio
here and the canons of the Episcopal Church USA
here. Grace Church is governed by these canons,
plus our own
The canon is also the official list of
the books of the bible (the scriptural canon). In the context of a cathedral, a canon
is a priest who reports to the dean.
Episcopalians have catechism? Yes, but it's not the catechism class
that you might remember you or your Roman Catholic friends attending. The word
catechism is from the Greek "katecheo"--to sound aloud. You can read
the Episcopal Church's "Outline of the Faith commonly called the
Catechism" in the Book of Common Prayer here.
||A cathedral is a
church that is the home church of the bishop
of a diocese. A cathedral is administered by a priest who is referred
to as the dean. In
every cathedral you will find a seat (throne) for the diocesan bishop
called a cathedra, from which the word cathedral derives.
||It is drawn from
the Greek word meaning "universal" or "found everywhere."
Although the term is often used to refer to the Roman Catholic Church,
in the Episcopal and many other churches it's used to refer to all
Christianity--the universal Christian Church.
Education." Christian Formation is the process by which people grow as
Christians. This process is facilitated by participation in Christian
education experiences, but there are other processes and experiences
that contribute as well. Thinking in terms of Christian
formation allows us to think holistically about what makes for our
growth as Christians.
of Jesus' birth starts December 25 and continues 12 days until Epiphany on January 6.
On December 25--and not before--we put up Chistmas decorations and
being singing Christmas songs. Many Episcopalians echo the tradition
of the church in their home lives and wait until Christmas
(or just a little before) before putting up their Christmas tree and
Christmas decorations and otherwise celebrating this great holiday
season. The liturgical color for Christmas is white, the color of
||The Church is
described as a body of people of which Jesus Christ is the
head. All baptized
people everywhere are members of the Church, regardless of which branch
they may be affiliated with. "Church" may, of course, also refer to a
building that a congregation uses for worship.
have fiscal years that are not the same as the calendar year.
Similarly, the church has its own church year with its own seasons. In
the Episcopal Church and other Western Churches,
the church year starts on the fourth Sunday before Christmas. The
seasons of the church year are Advent,
Some churches (such as Anglicans,
Lutherans and Roman Catholics) make more of the church year than
Liturgical colors are used to help communicate the theme of
worship of each season of the church year.
||Confirmation, as defined in The Book of Common Prayer is "a
mature public affirmation of faith and commitment to the responsibilities of Baptism."
At Confirmation, an individual receives the laying on of hands by the bishop,
thereby affirming their own faith and visibly connecting to the broader Body of
Christ. In the
Episcopal Church, those who have decided for
themselves that they wish to be Confirmed and who have been prepared
(typically through a Confirmation or Enquirer's Class) are Confirmed by
People who have made a mature public profession of faith in another tradition who
desire to affiliate with the Episcopal church may choose to be Received into the
Episcopal Church rather than Confirmed.
||The group of
people of a certain area who are organized into a local church. An
Episcopal congregation may be a parish
or a mission. A parish is fully self-supporting, as
contrasted with a mission,
which gets some support from its diocese.
||The word "deacon"
is very close to the Greek word for servant. Deacons are
ordained to a servant ministry to those in need under the direction of
Deacons will be found working with the youth, the divorced, the sick in
hospitals, in nursing homes, or in private homes; with the poor, the
rejected, the immigrants, the dying, those in jail or prison, the
addicts, and on college campuses. Deacons also have specific roles to
play in the liturgy.
In addition to those deacons who have
made a lifetime commitment to this servant ministry, there are other
deacons referred to as "transitional" or "temporary." Because
being a deacon is a prerequisite to being ordained priest, those who
intend to become priests are ordained deacons for a short
||The diocese is
the fundamental unit of structure of the Anglican church. Every diocese
has a Bishop. A
diocese contains many churches, and normally dioceses are combined into
national churches such as the The Episcopal Church, USA
or the Church of England. Grace Church is part of the Episcopal
Diocese of Southern Ohio.
||Easter is the day
we celebrate Jesus being resurrected from the dead. Easter is also a
season of celebration lasting for the 50 days after Easter to Pentecost. Our
is especially celebrative and extraverted during this season. Prayers
of confession are often omitted and "alleluias" are inserted in several
places in the service. The first celebration of Easter is the Great
Vigil of Easter on Easter Eve. The liturgical color of Easter
is white, the color of celebration.
6) is the day we celebrate the arrival of the Wise Men to see Jesus.
Epiphany is also a season of the church year running from Epiphany (the
twelfth day of Christmas)
to Lent. This
season celebrates the appearance of Christ to the gentiles in the
persons of the Wise Men. The liturgical color for Epiphany is
green, the color of growth.
||The word means
"having bishops." After the American Revolution, when the
former Church of England in the colonies was being organized into a
church independent of the mother church, a name that did not mention
England or Anglican was needed. "Episcopal" was chosen to
differentiate our church from churches that did
not have bishops.
call it Holy
Communion. Some call it the Mass. Many Episcopalians and some others call it
Eucharist. It is Greek for "thanksgiving." All Christians are invited to God's
table in the Episcopal Church.
||A worship service
done in the late afternoon or evening, many times every
evening. In its barest form, it consists of bible readings,
psalms and prayers. To see complete Evening Prayer services
for any day of the year, go to the Mission St. Clare
Daily Office web site and click on the little moon on that
Choral Evensong is Evening
Prayer set to music, typically done in Anglican churches on
||The first words
(in Latin) of an ancient hymn sung during many Communion
services. In English, it starts, "Glory to God in the highest
also called the Eucharist
or the Lord's Supper, is our
principle worship service. In it, we celebrate Jesus' victory
over death. In it, Christ invites the gathered community
to become one with him and with God, secure in God's
love. Our response is to leave our seats and come forward to
the altar in thanksgiving to partake of Christ's body and blood as
symbolized in bread and wine.
consists of the week before Easter
Sunday. There are special worship services appointed for
every day of this week. It starts with Palm Sunday, when both
Jesus' triumphant entry into Jerusalem and his capture and death are
remembered. On Maundy Thursday, Jesus' Last Supper with his
disciples is re-enacted. Good Friday services recall Jesus'
execution on a cross.
||Greek for "Lord,"
the first word of a very ancient short hymn commonly sung during Communion
services in Lent.
In English, it goes, "Lord, have mercy, Christ, have mercy, Lord have
||The Laity are all
of the church who are not clergy, that is who are not Bishops, Priests or Deacons. Our Catechism says, "The
ministry of lay persons is to represent Christ and his Church; to bear
witness to him wherever they may be; and, according to the gifts given
them, to carry on Christ's work of reconciliation in the world; and to
take their place in the life, worship and governance of the
Church." The Episcopal church sees the relationship between
Clergy and Laity as being one of a partnership of people with different
roles to play, in which all are needed to be a complete Christian
Grace Church is a lay-led church. Lay members perform most
functions, with some resource peole engaged to do things that volunteers can't
do, for example, lead services of Holy Eucharist.
||Two or three bible lessons and a psalm are used at every
worship service, as specified in the lectionary. The
idea is to cover much of the Bible over the period which the lectionary
covers. Lessons are chosen to support the seasons of the church year.
There is a three-year lectionary for Sundays and holy days
Lectionary Page) and a two-year lectionary for daily morning and evening prayer
||The season of
Lent follows the Epiphany
season and covers the 40 days (not counting Sundays) from Ash Wednesday
to Easter Sunday. It is a time of preparation for Holy Week and Easter. Many people use
this time to deepen their spirituality by taking on spiritual or other
disciplines (prayer would be one example, giving up meat another). Our liturgy is more
introspective and less celebrative during Lent. Penitence is
the order of the day. The liturgical color of Lent is purple,
the color of preparation and penitence.
||From a Greek word
meaning a work of or for the people. Nowadays, this term is usually
applied to the public celebrations of the church. The word is generally
used to refer to the full text of the words of a worship service or the
ritual order for holding a church service. Our liturgy reflects the
forms of Christian worship which developed in the Western Church
during its first centuries. The liturgy follows a fixed
outline with portions which change with the Sunday and the season of
the church year.
Most of the liturgies used in the Episcopal church are contained in the
||Color is used to reinforce the themes of
the days and seasons of the church
year. Liturgical colors include white or gold for Christmas,
Easter, other feasts (except those of martyrs), marriages, and
funerals; blue or violet for Advent; violet for Lent; red for Holy
Week, martyrs, the Day of Pentecost, and ordinations; green for the
time after the Epiphany and after the Day of Pentecost. Some use rose
for Advent 3 and Lent 4.
Grace Church's by-laws, "All persons who have been baptized by water in the
name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit and who identify Grace as their home
Parish and make it their principal place of worship shall be considered Members
of the Parish." To be added to the roll of members and friends of Grace,
||A mission is a congregation
which is not fully self-supporting. If there is a priest in charge
of a mission, he or she is called a vicar,
and is appointed by the bishop.
||A mission has a
mission council where a parish
has a vestry. See Vestry
or Mission Council.
||A worship service
done in the morning, many times every morning. In its barest
form, it consists of bible readings, psalms and prayers. To
see, listen to and/or read along with complete Morning Prayer services
for any day of the year, go to the Mission St. Clare
Daily Office web site.
||An entry room or
hallway leading to the worship space or other spaces. Grace's
narthex is the small entryway leading into the Nave.
||The part of a
church where devoted to worship. From the Latin "navis" meaning
ship. Look up; can you see that the roof looks like the inside of a
ship turned upside down?
||Pentecost is the
Sunday celebrating the coming of the Holy Spirit to the disciples.
Pentecost is also the season lasting from Pentecost Sunday to Advent. It is
the longest season of the church year, covering most of summer and
fall. The liturgical color for Pentecost Sunday is red, the
color of the presence of the Holy Spirit; the season after Pentecost
Sunday is green, the color of growth.
churches call ministers or pastors, Episcopalians, Roman Catholics and
Orthodox call priests (from the Greek "presbyteros," elder). A person
becomes a priest by being ordained for life by a bishop. Most bishops
require candidates to undertake special training before ordaining them,
which training is typically obtained in a theological college or
||A parish is a congregation
which is self-supporting, as opposed to a mission. A parish's
priest, called a rector,
is called by the parish vestry.
||The priest in charge of a
parish. A rector is called by the parish vestry,
with the approval of the bishop.
|A sacrament is an outward and visible sign of an inward and
spiritual grace. The two great sacraments given by Christ to his Church are
Other sacramental rites which evolved in the Church include
Ordination, Holy Matrimony, Reconciliation of a Penitent (confession), and
||The portion of a
church immediately around the altar. Some use the word to refer to the
whole interior of the church, but this is not the usual Episcopal usage.
||Refers to an
ancient hymn sung during every Communion
service. "Sanctus" is Latin for the first word in the first
line of the hymn, "Holy, holy, holy Lord, God of power and
might ...." "Benedictus" is Latin for the first word in a
subsequent phrase which starts, "Blessed is he who comes in the name of
||The vestry or
mission council is to a congregation
something like a board of directors is to a company. If there is a
rector or vicar, he or she fills a
role similar to that of a company's board chair and chief executive officer (if
there is no priest, as at Grace, the Senior Warden fills this role).
The primary difference between a vestry and a mission council is that a
vestry elects and calls a priest to be its rector while the priest of a
mission, called a vicar, is appointed by the bishop.
The vestry or mission council consists
of the rector or vicar, if there is one, the wardens and a number of members
elected at the annual meeting for overlapping three-year terms.
vestry or mission council of the congregation takes charge of the
property and regulates all its temporal concerns. Vestry or mission
council pays all lawful assessments on the congregation, keeps order in
the church during divine services and, in general, to act as helpers to
the rector, vicar, or priest-in-charge, it being understood
always that the spiritual concerns of the church are under the
exclusive direction of the priest. The vestry or mission council also
maintains the congregation's property but does not have the right to
sell it without permission from the diocese.
In the absence of a priest, mission council is responsible for everything
under the leadership of the wardens.
||In the Episcopal
Diocese of Southern Ohio, a vicar is a priest or deacon in charge of a mission. He or she is
appointed by the bishop
and serves at his or her pleasure.
||Wardens are the
chief lay officers of a congregation. Canonically,
wardens provide the elements for the Lord's Supper, collect the alms at
the administration of the same, and keep and disburse such alms in case
the parish or mission idoes not
have a priest. If the congregation does not have a priest, the wardens provide for the celebration of public
worship. Vestry or Mission Council meetings are called, in the absence of a
rector or vicar, by the Senior Warden, and in the absence of both by
the Junior Warden. In the Diocese of Southern Ohio, wardens
are elected at the annual
meeting or by the vestry
or mission council, depending on the by-laws of the
particular parish. At Grace, wardens are elected by the
members at the annual meeting.
trace their origins in some way back to the early Church in
Rome. All protestant churches along with the Roman
Catholic Church and the Anglican
churches are western churches. Among other things, these
churches share the same church calendar. Eastern churches are
those that trace their origins in some way back to the early Church in
Constantinople. Most Orthodox churches are eastern
churches. There are some churches whose origins are in
neither Rome or Constantinople, such as the Coptic and Ethiopian