Website Glossary 2016-10-27T00:50:40+00:00

C4SO Website Content Glossary

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Absolution: A declaration by a bishop or priest, announcing forgiveness by God to those who have confessed their sins and repented.

Anglican: The word “Anglican” just means “English” or “of England”. It is rarely used to describe anything besides the Anglican Church, and there it just means that our branch of the church began in England. In England the Anglican Church is referred to as the Church of England.

Anglicanism: Anglicanism can be understood as the via media between Roman Catholicism as well as the Orthodox tradition and Protestantism.

Anglicans: Christians shaped by the English Reformation as well as the theology and worship of the Church of England through the Anglican Communion. A way of worship, called common prayer, is shared by all Anglicans. The various Books of Common Prayer give expression to a comprehensiveness found within the churches, which seek to chart a via media, or middle way, in relation to Catholic and Protestant Christian traditions.

Anglican Church in North America: The Anglican Church in North America unites some 100,000 Anglicans in nearly 1,000 congregations across the United States and Canada into a single Church. It is an emerging Province in the global Anglican Communion.

Anglican Communion: The Anglican Communion is a fellowship of churches around the world that are in communion with each other and with the See of Canterbury, (i.e., Church of England) and that hold the same faith, order, and worship. The Anglican Communion is composed of 38 autonomous churches together with a small group of extra-provincial dioceses and approximately 85 million members. There are Anglican congregations or jurisdictions in 165 countries on six continents.

Anglo-Catholic: Primarily a style of worship which is noted for its beauty, majesty and formality, but also a fundamental understanding of the nature of the church and the sacramental way that the church relates to everyday life.

Apostles: The literal definition of “apostle” is a special messenger, delegate, one commissioned for a particular task or role or one sent forth with a message. In the first century, Jesus called 12 men from among His disciples to serve as His representatives; the role is associated with the office of bishop today although a leader can fulfill an apostolic ministry without being a bishop. The office of apostle is understood as God’s anointing for extending the kingdom of God, breaking in new territory and overseeing larger sections of the Body of Christ.

Apostolic Succession: Apostolic Succession in the broadest and most basic sense refers to passing along the Faith and Fellowship of the Apostles in the life of the Church. This succession is carried on through a variety of means. The Scripture, historic Creeds, Sacraments, and the lineage of Bishops, Priests and Deacons all assist the Church to pass on the Apostolic Faith and Life.

The doctrine of apostolic succession holds that bishops are the direct successors of the original eleven apostles (excluding Judas) and are thus inheritors in an unbroken line to the ministry to which Jesus Himself ordained the Apostles.

Archbishop: The term used by most of the Anglican Communion to define a bishop in charge of a group of dioceses in a geographical area. The form of address is: The Most Reverend or Your Grace.

Archbishop of Canterbury: The Archbishop of Canterbury serves as the Primate of All England, Metropolitan of the Province of Canterbury, “first among equals” of all Anglican bishops, and the spiritual leader of the Anglican Communion. The See of Canterbury was founded in 597 with the arrival of St. Augustine, who established his first church in the town. The present Archbishop of Canterbury is the Most Rev. and Right Hon. Justin Welby.

Aspirant: One who is aspiring to be ordained.

Baptism: Holy Baptism is the sacrament of spiritual remission and regeneration by water and the Holy Spirit. It is the rite by which persons are admitted into the fellowship of Christ and his church.

Beatitudes: The Beatitudes come from the opening verses of the famous Sermon on the Mount delivered by Jesus and recorded in Matthew 5:3-12. Here Jesus states several blessings, each beginning with the phrase, “Blessed are …” (Similar declarations appear in Jesus’ Sermon on the Plain in Luke 6:20-23.) Each saying speaks of a blessing or “divine favor” bestowed upon a person resulting from the possession of a certain character quality.

Bishop: The third of the three orders of ordained ministry (deacon, priest, bishop). The major functions are to preside over a diocese, consecrate to the episcopate, ordain to the ministry, administer confirmation, and administer ecclesiastical discipline. Bishops are spiritually responsible for the care of souls in their diocese. They should be the focus of unity, the defenders of the orthodox faith, and teachers of it.

Book of Common Prayer: The Book of Common Prayer is the primary source of worship material and liturgy in the Anglican church. The first Book of Common Prayer was written in 1549 by Thomas Cranmer. See for more information.

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Canon: In the Church we speak of canon law, the canon of Scripture, and people called canons. The canon of Scripture refers to the books of the Bible that are accepted as genuine and inspired by God. When used in reference to people, a canon is the title of a person or leader who either serves on the staff of a cathedral, or who has exhibited exemplary service to a diocese.

Canon Law: The collection of laws that serve as the rules of our Anglican Church. The canons may be (and always are) modified by each General Convention. Each diocese also has canon law, but a diocese may not pass a canon that conflicts with national canons.

Catechism: Instruction in the beliefs of Christianity, usually in the form of questions and answers.

Catholic (small ‘c’): The literal meaning of the word “catholic” is “universal” and refers to the Christian Church and traditional Christian teaching which has been upheld “in all times and places.” Used in lower case, it does not refer to the Roman Catholic Church. The Nicene Creed affirms that Christians are members of “one holy catholic and apostolic church.”

Chalice: The cup used at the Eucharist.

Charismatic: The tradition within Christianity that emphasizes the power of the Holy Spirit, including the manifestations of the Spirit as demonstrated in the first century Church, described in Scripture and experienced throughout church history.

Church of England: The official name of the original Church in England, the Anglican Church. During the reign of King Henry VIII, the Church, in England, broke formal ties with Rome and became the Church OF England. Sometimes referred to as the “C of E.”


  • High Church: One of three popular designations for styles of worship in an Anglican Church. “High Church” worship emphasizes theological or liturgical formality. Parts or all of a “high” service are often sung or chanted rather than reading or speaking them. Services often include several vested assistants, incense and sanctus bells.
  • Low Church: A popular designation for a church that is, on the whole, less formal. Most low churches tend to emphasize preaching. A low church might alternate Morning Prayer with the Eucharist for their primary Sunday worship.
  • Broad Church: One of three popular designations to define the style of worship in a particular Anglican church. “Broad church” worship is vaguely midway between low and high, and may or may not include elaborate liturgy.

Clergy: The group of ordained people, consecrated for unique ministry for a particular church or denomination.

Collect: From the Latin word collecta, meaning “assembly.” The word normally refers to the prayer near the beginning of the Eucharist service that precedes the lessons. The collect was originally designed to “collect” the thoughts of the lessons and bind them together.

Confirmation: At Confirmation a person makes a mature, public confession that he or she accepts Jesus Christ as his or her personal Lord and Savior, thus owning up to the vows his or her godparents made for him or her at his or her baptism. The bishop then lays his or her hands on the confirmand, and prays for the Holy Spirit to “strengthen greatly” the person in the rest of his or her life. Confirmation is considered to be one of the five sacramental acts, or minor sacraments of the Church.

Consecration: To consecrate something or someone literally means “to set aside for holy purposes.” In Anglican Christianity, the term is used to refer to prayers over bread and wine in the service of Holy Communion and for the ordination of a priest to the office of bishop.

Creeds, Nicene and Apostles: The Christian Church recognizes two major creeds—the Nicene and Apostles’—as statements of belief which were upheld as authoritative by church councils of the first centuries of the church.

Deacon: The first order of ordained ministry that embodies and lives out the servant ministry of Christ. There are “transitional” deacons: those who will eventually be ordained as priests, and “vocational” deacons: those who will serve as deacons for the balance of their lives.

Deanery: A geographical division of a diocese.

Diocese: A church jurisdiction comprised of parishes under the authority of a bishop.

Disciple, Discipleship: A Christian disciple is one who believes in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior and is dedicated to living in obedience to His Word (as found in Scripture). Discipleship is the act of learning to live out one’s faith, and the church is called to mentor and guide new believers in the journey of discipleship.

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Elements: The bread and wine of Holy Communion.

English Reformation: The English Reformation was a series of events in 16th century England through which the Church in England broke away from the authority of the Pope and the Roman Catholic Church. The Church in England became the Church of England, eventually giving birth to the Anglican Communion. The English Reformation placed high value on the Bible and liturgy being in the “language of the people,” a common way of worship (The Book of Common Prayer), a return to ancient roots while rejecting oversight from a “foreign bishop.”

Eucharist: Eucharist, from the Greek word for “giving of thanks,” refers to the service of Holy Communion or the Lord’s Supper as a sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving. The sacrament of the Lord’s Supper was ordained by Jesus Christ for the continued remembrance of the sacrifice of his death.

Evangelical: The evangelical tradition within Christianity emphasizes the authority of Scripture, the proclamation of the Gospel, the need for a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, evangelism and outreach/missions.

Evangelism: Evangelism is the proclamation of the Good News of Jesus Christ, a proclamation empowered by the Holy Spirit such that others believe in Him as Savior and follow Him as Lord within the Christian Church.

Godparents: Godfathers and godmothers, persons who sponsor an infant or young child at his or her baptism. Godparents make vows that they will, by their example, help the child know what it means to be a Christian, so that later in his or her life the child can confirm that fact for himself or herself at Confirmation.

Grace: Grace is a divine gift from God—unmerited and freely given as an act of love. In the Christian faith, “grace” refers particularly to God’s gift of salvation through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ but also refers to the acts of love God pours out on His people.

Great Commandment and Great Commission: Jesus’ mission to His church is two-fold. First, He commands those in the Church to “love the Lord with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength” and to love all others as you love yourself (Great Commandment). Additionally, He commands us to go into the world, proclaiming His message of salvation, baptizing new believers and teaching them to obey all He has taught.

Holy Orders: In the Anglican tradition, the church recognizes three “orders”—bishops, priests and deacons who are set aside for ordained ministry. The offices of bishops, priests and deacons are outlined in Scripture and formally established in the early Church. These ancient orders were retained as an expression of continuity with the historic Church.

Instruments of Unity: In recent years, the Anglican Communion is said to be served by four “Instruments of Communion”:

  • The Primates meetings: Irregular meetings of the Primates of all Provinces in the Communion.
  • The office of the Archbishop of Canterbury, also viewed as the “focus of unity” for the Communion.
  • The Anglican Consultative Council: an international council which includes laity, deacons and priests and bishops.
  • The Lambeth Conference: gathering of all bishops in the communion who meet every 10 years at the invitation of the Archbishop of Canterbury.

Lambeth Quadrilateral: The four essentials agreed upon at the Lambeth Conference of 1888 for a United Christian Church, namely, the Holy Scriptures, the Nicene Creed, the sacraments of baptism and Holy Communion, and the historic episcopate, locally adapted.

Lay person (laity): A lay person is a member of the Christian community. All members are considered “ministers” but are not ordained into Holy Orders.

Liturgy: Liturgy is a form and expression of worship offered to God and the term is used in reference to authorized services of corporate worship especially the Eucharist.

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Ministers: The ministers of the church are those, lay and ordained, who serve God as his representatives or ambassadors in the world.

“One holy catholic and apostolic church”: The four major distinctive marks or distinguishing characteristics of the Christian Church. They are still professed today in the Nicene Creed, recited in Anglican Church liturgy.

Ordination: Ordination is the service in which individuals are formally “set aside” for service in the church as deacons, priests or bishops.  Individuals are “ordained” to these three orders.

Primate: The archbishop, or presiding bishop, who serves as the head of a province.

Postulant: One who is in the process of preparing for ordination.

Priest/Presbyter: An ordained office responsible for spiritual care, teaching and sacramental leadership in the church.

Province: The worldwide Anglican Communion is made up of 38 provinces, each comprised of a number of dioceses, which in turn are comprised of parishes. A group of dioceses, usually in the same region, whose bishops and delegates meet in synod annually or in those years when the General Convention does not meet. A province is also a term used for a self-governing church body that belongs to the Anglican Communion.

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Sacraments: Sacraments are defined as “outward and visible signs of an inward spiritual grace” (gift) given by Christ. There are two chief Sacraments of the Gospel: Baptism and the Lord’s Supper (also called Holy Eucharist or Holy Communion). These sacraments were instituted by Christ directly.

Sanctification: The process of being transformed by divine grace through the power of the Holy Spirit as a result of Christian commitment after baptism or conversion.

Seasons: A way of marking time in the Church. There are six seasons: Advent, Christmas, Epiphany, Lent, Easter, and the season after Pentecost. The church new year begins with the season of Advent, which marks the Advent (Latin: adventus) or coming of our Lord. Advent begins four Sundays before Christmas day. Christmas is a twelve-day season that begins Christmas day and continues to January 6th. Epiphany is both a day (Jan.6) and a season, and represents the manifestation (epiphany) of the gospel into the world. Lent begins 46 days before Easter with Ash Wednesday, and is a time of preparation for Holy Week and Easter. Easter is a six week (50 day) season which ends on Pentecost Sunday. The season after Pentecost runs from Pentecost to Advent.

Scripture: The inspired word of God with authority for guiding daily life and the primary source of developing theology and doctrine. Over 80% of the prayer book comes directly from the Bible.

Sermon on the Mount: A collection of Jesus’ teachings and sayings, which comprise the longest portion of His teaching in the New Testament. The Sermon emphasizes justice.

Vestments: Vestments are the historic robes worn by members of the clergy during worship services and are rooted in the earliest Christian practice. Not all Anglican clergy dress alike—they have dressed differently at different times in history and in different places. Some clergy today dress just like the laity, adding only a stole worn during the celebration of the Sacraments to designate their role in the worship service.

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