Acolyte - A person who carries a torch or a candle in processions and at other times during the liturgy. This term is also commonly interchanged with server.
Advent - The beginning of the Church Year and the four weeks leading up to and concluding with Christmas.
Altar Guild - a special group in a church charged with the maintenance and preparation of the altar and its furnishings in a church.
Anglican - simply means English; a term indicating the English origins of the Episcopal Church. Sometimes seen in the expressions Anglican Church or Anglican Communion--both of which terms simply indicate any national church which derives from the Church of England.
Archbishop of Canterbury - the presiding bishop of the Church of England; sometimes acknowledged by American Episcopalians as the honorary spiritual head of the entire Anglican communion.
Ascension - The Feast commemorating the Ascension of our Lord Jesus Christ to glory. This Feast is forty days after Easter and always occurs on a Thursday.
Ash Wednesday - The day of special devotion; the day which marks the beginning of the season of Lent, a period of spiritual discipline, fasting and moderation in preparation for Holy Week and Easter; one of the most important days of the church year. In the Ash Wednesday service, ashes are lightly smeared onto the forehead of a person by the priest or bishop. On this day, a number of people may be seen who appear to have a black or gray smudge on their forehead. (see BCP, 264ff).
Baptism - The sacrament of initiation by which a person is born anew by Water and the Holy Spirit and made a member of Christ's Body (see BCP, 299ff.).
Bishop - A successor of the apostles, the chief pastor of a diocese, and (when present) the principal celebrant at sacramental liturgies .
Book of Common Prayer - The official liturgy of the Episcopal Church (BCP); a collection of prayers, readings, Psalms, devotions, and services used by the Episcopal Church; the worship book used by Episcopalians. Nearly all services in any Episcopal Church will be printed in this book. See http://justus.anglican.org/resources/bcp/ for more information.
Candlemas - The Feast of the Presentation of Our Lord in the Temple, February 2nd. The term comes from the tradition of blessing candles on this feast and carrying them in procession as a symbol of the "Light to Lighten the Nations" (see Nunc Dimittis).
Chalice - A metal or ceramic cup into which the wine (and a little water) for the Eucharist is poured.
Christmas - The Feast of the Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ celebrated on December 25th. The Christmas season extends through January 6, the Feast of the Epiphany.
Communion - the Christian sacramental meal, equivalent to the Lord's Supper; now more commonly called 'eucharist' in Episcopal churches; also called Mass in Roman Catholic churches.
Confirmation - A mature public affirmation of the faith and commitment to the responsibilities of one's Baptismal vows, and, the laying on of hands by the bishop (see BCP, 412ff.); Sacramental act whereby, through the laying on of hands by a bishop, the strengthening gifts of the Holy Spirit are bestowed on those affirming their commitment to Christ made in Baptism.
Crucifer - a person in a religious procession who bears the cross and who leads the procession into the church.
Deacon - An ordained minister whose ministry focuses on the bridge between the church and the wider world. In the liturgy, the deacon's main functions at the Eucharist are to read the Gospel, (in some churches to lead the Prayers of the People), prepare the gifts at the Offertory, assist with the administration of Communion, help with the ablutions, and dismiss the people.
Diocese - a unit of church organization; the spiritual domain under a bishop. A diocese may contain many parishes and churches.
Easter - The day celebrating the Lord's Resurrection and the Fifty Days following.
Eucharist - The principal act of worship on Sundays and other Feasts (also called Mass, Lord's Supper, Liturgy, The Holy Communion); a "good gift" or thanksgiving; the current usage in the Episcopal Church to refer to communion or the Lord's Supper.
Good Friday - The Friday before Easter Day on which the Passion and Death of our Lord Jesus Christ is celebrated (see BCP,276ff).
Gospel - The final lesson in The Word of God taken from one of the four Gospels in the New Testament. It is normally read by a deacon or priest, and as a sign of reverence, the people and assisting ministers stand when the Gospel is proclaimed (see BCP, 326 or 357).
Gospel Book - The book (usually with an ornamented cover) which contains the Gospel lessons appointed for use at the Eucharist. It is carried in procession (at the entrance) and at the proclamation of the Gospel by the deacon or other reader. "It is desirable that the lessons and Gospel be read from a book or books of appropriate size and dignity" (BCP, 406).
Holy Saturday - See BCP, 283; also, see GreatVigil of Easter.
Holy Week - The week that commemorates our Lord's Passion and Death: The Sunday of the Passion: Palm Sunday; Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday of Holy Week; Maundy Thursday; Good Friday; and, Holy Saturday (see BCP,270-283). The Great Vigil of Easter is the climax of Holy Week and the beginning of the Fifty Days of Easter celebrating the Resurrection of our Lord; the period from Palm Sunday to Easter Sunday; most important period of the church year with many special services.
Laity - the non-ordained members of a church; all lay persons together; "the people" as distinguished from "the clergy".
Lay Reader - any non-ordained person who participates in reading part of a church service. In some churches Lay Readers are officially recognized as a special group assisting in church services; A person licensed by the Bishop to read the lessons at the Eucharist or at the Daily Offices and who may assist the celebrant or officiant in other ways; if specifically licensed by the Bishop, may administer the chalice at Communion.
Lent - the period of fasting, sobriety and meditation following Ash Wednesday; in the past Lent was widely associated with denial or "giving something up for Lent.": "I gave up smoking for Lent." Or, "I gave up desserts for Lent." The season recalls the period of Christ's fasting and meditation in the wilderness, so traditionally is for a period of forty days--from Ash Wednesday to Palm Sunday. The term is derived from an old word for 'lengthen' which referred to the lengthening days of early spring; The season of penitence and preparation for Holy Week and Easter which begins on Ash Wednesday (see BCP, 264-65).
Liturgy - The "work of the people." In Western usage this term may apply to any public celebration of the Church. In the Churches of the East, The Divine Liturgy refers specifically to the celebration of the Holy Eucharist; literally the word means the work of the people; generally used to refer to the full text of the words of a worship service; any ritual order for holding a church service.
Maundy Thursday - Thursday in Holy Week (see BCP, 274); the name is from Latin `mandatum' referring to Christ's commandment concerning foot-washing; also the day on which the first Lord's Supper was celebrated.
Ministers - The celebrant, officiant and any others (lay persons or ordained) who assist in the celebration of the liturgy.
Morning Prayer - a morning worship service without communion; now this service has generally been replaced by a eucharistic or communion service.
Palm Sunday - The Sunday of the Passion (see BCP, 270-73); the Sunday before Easter. In an Episcopal Church, members of the congregation carry real palms during the service; in some churches, the tradition is that palms from one year are saved, dried and later burned to make the ashes used at the next year's Ash Wednesday service.
Pentecost - The Sunday of the Church Year when we celebrate the coming of the Holy Spirit.
Parish - A parish is the smallest unit of administration within the Anglican church.
Priest - a special term for the minister of a Roman Catholic or Episcopal or Orthodox church. Only a priest (or Bishop) can celebrate the Eucharist.
Procession - the line of choir, clergy, acolytes, crucifer, torchbearers and others walking into a church to begin a service.
Province - an administrative division of the church that is bigger than a diocese and smaller than the whole world.
Rite I - a portion of the Book of Common Prayer which contains worship services using the older (traditional) language of the 1928 edition of the prayerbook.
Rite II - a portion of the Book of Common Prayer containing worship services which use more modern language.
Sacrament - See BCP p. 857.
Trinity - a fundamental symbol of the Christian faith and a very important doctrine in catholic Christianity; the Trinity - refers to the oneness and essential unity of God as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
Vestry - governing board of a local Episcopal church consisting of lay members, the group that usually makes basic decisions about church budget, building plans, etc. Usually headed by a Senior Warden assisted by a Junior Warden.
Vicar - A vicar is the priest in charge of a parish or mission that is supported financially from the outside, while a rector is the priest in charge of a self-supporting church.
Wafer - the bread part of the Lord's Supper; often an unleavened, thin cracker; sometimes the wafer is imprinted with a cross; some wafers are large, being several inches in diameter.
Warden - A church warden is an elected administrative position in the parish church. Usually one finds two wardens, called Junior Warden and Senior Warden. They have specific duties pertaining to the earthly operation of the parish.
Information about other "church language" can be found at: http://www.saintpauls.org/glossary.htm.