An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church

Glossary of Terms


(d. c. 601). A saint and founder of monasteries. Although little is known about David, he remains one of the most popular British saints. He became the Bishop of Menevia in southwest Wales, and was also the abbot of a monastery in Menevia which practiced an extreme form of monasticism in the tradition of Antony […]

Dawley, Powel Mills

(Mar. 1, 1907-July 10, 1985). Church historian. He was born in Newport, Rhode Island. Dawley received his Ph.B. in 1929 and his M.A. in 1931 from Brown University. He received his B.D. in 1936 from the Episcopal Theological School and remained there for two additional years as Phillips Brooks Fellow. Dawley received his Ph.D. from […]

Dawson, Thomas

(d. Dec. 5, 1761). Commissary to Virginia and president of William and Mary College. Dawson came to Virginia at an early age. He was educated at William and Mary College. Dawson served as master of the Indian School at William and Mary College from 1738 until 1755. At this time he also studied for the […]

Dawson, William

(1704-July 24, 1752). Commissary and president of William and Mary College. Dawson was born in Aspatria, Cumberland County, England. He received his B.A. in 1725 and his M.A. in 1728 from Queens' College, Oxford University. He was ordained deacon and priest, and in 1729 came to Virginia to be professor of moral philosophy in William […]

Day Hours

Canonical offices other than matins, including lauds, prime, terce, sext, none, vespers, and compline. These day hours of the church are traditionally included in an office book known as the Diurnal. Matins was the traditional night office. By the fourth century, the monks were joined by the secular clergy and laity for the principal morning […]

Day, Peter Morton

(Aug. 1, 1914-May 5, 1984). Editor and ecumenist. After graduating from Dartmouth College in 1935, he was employed in Milwaukee by The Living Church magazine. He soon became managing editor and then acting editor in the frequent absence of the editor, Clifford P. Morehouse. In 1941 Day married the former Lorraine Kirschnick, the copy editor […]

Days of Abstinence

Days when Christians traditionally abstained from eating meat. Roman Catholics prior to Vatican Council II distinguished fast days on which the quantity of food consumed was reduced (e.g., the weekdays of Lent), and days of abstinence on which meat was not eaten (e.g., Fridays). The 1928 BCP in its table of fasts listed “other days […]

Days of Optional Observance

Days in the calendar of the church year for which a liturgical observance is allowed but not required (BCP, pp. 17-18). Sundays, principal feasts, and other holy days always take precedence over any optional days or festivals. Days of optional observance include the various commemorations in the calendar (that is, the “lesser feasts”), other commemorations-not […]

Days of Special Devotion

Term used in the table of precedence in the BCP to describe the weekdays of Lent and Holy Week (except the feast of the Annunciation) and the Fridays of the year, except for Fridays in Christmas and Easter seasons, and any Feasts of our Lord which occur on a Friday. They are observed by “special […]

De Veaux College

Judge Samuel De Veaux (De Voe) (1789-1852) left a bequest of all his residuary estate for the foundation of “a benevolent institution under the supervision of the Convention” of the Diocese of Western New York. Under the provisions of this will De Veaux College was founded in Niagara Falls, New York. It was incorporated on […]


Deacons are members of one of three distinct orders of ordained ministry (with bishops and presbyters). In the Episcopal Church a deacon exercises “a special ministry of servanthood” directly under the deacon's bishop, serving all people and especially those in need (BCP, p. 543). This definition reflects the practice of the early church, in which […]

Deacon’s Mass

” A communion service led by a deacon. After the liturgy of the word, the deacon administers communion to a congregation from the reserved sacrament. The service became popular in the Episcopal Church in the 1950s and 1960s. Because the 1928 BCP did not provide for this service, many deacons made up their own liturgies. […]


Following the example of German Lutherans in the early nineteenth century, and later of English Anglicans, during 1885-1970 almost five hundred Episcopal women were “set apart” as deaconesses to care for “the sick, the afflicted, and the poor.” The 1889 General Convention passed a canon on deaconesses that recognized their ministry. This canon reflected the […]

Dean (Cathedral, Seminary, College, Deanery)

At a cathedral, the dean is the member of the clergy in charge, although the cathedral is the official headquarters of the bishop. Assisting clergy at a cathedral have the title "Canon." At a seminary, the dean's function is like that of the president of a college or university. The dean is responsible for spiritual, […]


1) Geographical section or area within a diocese. A dean presides at meetings of the lay representatives and clergy of the deanery. 2) House where a dean lives. See Dean (Cathedral, Seminary, College, Deanery).

Dearmer, Percy

(Feb. 27, 1867-May 29, 1936). Liturgical scholar and hymn composer. He was born in London, England. Dearmer was educated at Westminster and at Christ Church, Oxford. He was one of the early members of the Christian Social Union, which was established in 1889. After he was ordained deacon and priest, he began a systematic and […]

Decade of Evangelism

The decade of the 1990s was declared the Decade of Evangelism by resolution of the Lambeth Conference of 1988. It called the provinces and dioceses of the Anglican Communion, in cooperation with other Christians, to make this a time of “renewed emphasis on making Christ known to the people of his world.” A. Wayne Schwab, […]


See Ten Commandments, The.


The term is derived from Latin, meaning “place of the dean.” Traditionally, the dean sat on the south side of the cathedral. In antiphonal singing, the term decani indicated those who sit on the decanal or dean's side of the choir of a church or cathedral. The opposite side is known as “cantoris.” The terms […]

Declaration of Consent

Statement of belief in the scriptures and conformity to the doctrine, discipline, and worship of the Episcopal Church by an ordinand in the ordination service. The Declaration of Consent is stated by the ordinand and then a written version of the Declaration of Consent is signed by the ordinand in the sight of all present. […]

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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.