Anglican Glossary

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There are currently 63 Terms in this directory
Absolution
A declaration by a bishop or priest, announcing forgiveness by God to those who have confessed their sins.

Acolyte
A lay volunteer who assists the priest in worship.

Alb
A full-length white vestment that was the basic liturgical garment of the early church.

Altar Guild
A group of lay people in a church who prepare the altar and maintain the furnishings in a church building.

Anglican
A term which comes from the word angle, “Anglican” actually means “English” and refers to the church’s place of origin.

Apostolic Succession
The doctrine which holds that bishops are the direct successors of the original apostles in an unbroken line to the ministry to which Jesus Himself ordained the apostles.

Archbishop
A bishop in charge of a group of dioceses in a geographical area. The form of address is “The Most Reverend” or “Your Grace.”

Archdeacon
A priest who is part of a bishop’s staff and usually has administrative supervision over the diocese.

Baptism
The sacrament of baptism occurs when a candidate is immersed in or has water poured on him or her in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Baptism has multiple meanings, including cleansing from sin and being adopted by God into His family.

Bishop
A bishop is the chief pastor of a local diocese of churches. The bishop stands as the guardian of the faith, fosters unity, executes discipline when needed, and proclaims the Word of God. The title “bishop” comes from the New Testament Greek word epískopos, which means “overseer.” Bishops wear purple shirts and a large gold cross.

Book of Common Prayer
A collection of historic prayers, devotions, and services that was originally compiled by Thomas Cranmer. Commonly called the “Prayer Book” and often abbreviated as the BCP.

Cassock
A black robe worn by priests or deacons, usually with a white over-garment called a surplice. Lay readers, choir members, and acolytes also wear cassocks.

Catechism
A historic form of discipleship that is usually based on questions and answers. The Greek word for “instruct” or “teach” is katecheo, from which we get our English word “catechize.”

Cathedral
The church in which the diocesan bishop is seated and is often the gathering place for many of the diocese's major worship celebrations and events. The rector of a cathedral is given the title of Dean of the Cathedral.

Catholic
A term that is used in the historic creeds and literally means “universal.”

Celebrant
The person who leads the worship service. In a Eucharist, the celebrant is the bishop, or someone whom the bishop appoints to lead the service for him or her.

Censer
A vessel in which incense is burned on charcoal.

Chalice
The cup that contains the wine used at Communion.

Chalice-bearer
The person who administers the chalice during Communion.

Chancel
The section of a church building between the nave and the sanctuary; usually the place where the choir sits.

Chasuble
An oval-shaped liturgical vestment worn by the celebrant during Communion.

Chiborium
A cup that resembles a chalice, except that it has a removable lid. A ciborium is used to hold communion wafers during the Eucharist.

Clergy
A group of ordained people who have been consecrated for ministry in the church.

Collect
A prayer that is designed to “collect” the thoughts of the lessons and bind the thoughts of the congregation together.

Confirmation
When a person makes a public confession and affirmation of their faith, fulfilling the vows their godparents made for them at their baptism. The bishop lays his hands on them and prays for the Holy Spirit to strengthen them.

Consecration
The word literally means “to set aside” (for special divine use). At the Eucharist, the elements of bread and wine are consecrated during the liturgy.

Corporal
A square piece of linen that is laid on top of the altar cloth at Communion.

Crosier
The bishop’s staff, which is carried in a procession and held when giving the absolution or blessing.

Cruet
A glass or metal vessel that is used to hold the water and wine for the Eucharist.

Daily Office
Another name for the historic pattern of prayer that includes Morning and Evening Prayer.

Deacon
A “servant” and the first order of ordained ministry. There are “transitional” deacons, who will eventually be ordained as priests, and “vocational” deacons, who will serve as deacons for the rest of their lives.

Diocese
A diocese is a cluster of churches in a distinct geographic region under the leadership of a bishop. The adjectival form of the term is diocesan.

Elements
The bread and wine of Holy Communion.

Episcopal
The name of a form of church organization, which means governed by a bishop.

Eucharist
Literally means “thanksgiving,” and refers to the service of Holy Communion.

Father
A familiar title referring to a priest.

Font
A basin for water to be used in church baptisms.

Fraction
The part of the Communion liturgy where the celebrant breaks the Communion bread.

Holy Orders
The threefold order of ordained ministry, consisting of the offices of bishop, priest, and deacon, that emerged early in the life of the church and continues today.

Homily
Another name for a sermon.

Host
The consecrated “bread” of the Holy Communion.

Laity
The non-ordained members of a church, as distinguished from the clergy.

Lectionary
A list of Bible passages for personal reading and study, or for preaching in services of worship. The Lectionary readings from the Book of Common Prayer are used for daily services of worship and for Morning and Evening Prayer.

Liturgical
The word liturgy comes from the Greek word leitourgia, which means “the work of people.” Today, the word “liturgy” generally refers to a set form of words, actions, and rituals done in worship.

Narthex
An enclosed space at the entry end of the nave of a building; the area in the church building inside the doors and in front of the nave.

Nave
The main part of a church building and the place where the congregation sits.

Oblation
The act of offering the Eucharistic gifts to God in the Communion service.

Offertory
Includes the offering of money, and of bread and wine that is to be consecrated during the Communion.

Paten
The vessel used to contain the consecrated bread during Communion.

Priest
Shares with the bishop in the overseeing of the church by serving as a pastor to the people. The priest proclaims the gospel and is authorized to administer the sacraments in the local church.

Primate
A title for archbishops of the Anglican Communion that distinguishes them from other bishops in the same province.

Province
A particular geographic grouping of dioceses usually representing a nation. The minimum to constitute a province is usually four dioceses. Some provinces have distinct boundaries of political states, while some include multiple nations.

Purificator
A small piece of white linen used at Communion to cleanse the chalice by wiping its rim.

Sacraments
Outward and visible signs of inward and spiritual grace. Sacraments are signs and actions that point us to deeper realities than we are able to experience with our five senses.

Sanctus
The part of the Holy Communion service that begins with the words, “Holy, Holy, Holy.”

Stole
A long, thin liturgical vestment worn only by the clergy. Bishops and priests wear it around the neck and the shoulder, and deacons wear it over the left shoulder.

Surplice
A white vestment often made of linen and worn over a cassock.

Unction
The process of anointing someone with oil for religious purposes. Anglicans also use the word to refer to anointing the sick

Vestments
Clothing appropriate to persons (clergy and laity) participating in liturgical actions.

Vestry
A group of women and men who are elected by the congregation to handle the temporal, everyday affairs of the church.

Via Media
A Latin phrase that means “the middle way.” The middle way allows us to synthesize great Christian truths into a central core, rather than focusing on extremes.

Vicar
An English term referring to a priest in charge of a mission. It is the typical title used today to describe an English priest in who is charge of a local congregation.

Wafer
A small, very thin, round piece of bread used in the Lord’s Supper that is often unleavened. Sometimes the wafer is imprinted with a cross.


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