An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church

Glossary of Terms

General Thanksgiving

The BCP includes two prayers of General Thanksgiving. The traditional prayer of General Thanksgiving was composed by Edward Reynolds (1599-1676), Bishop of Norwich. It was possibly inspired by a private prayer of Queen Elizabeth that was issued in 1596. Prior to the 1604 revision of the Prayer Book, Puritans complained that there were not enough […]

General Theological Seminary, The

The oldest seminary of the Episcopal Church, founded by the 1817 General Convention. By 1827 it was located at “Chelsea Square,” in New York City, part of the family estate of Clement Clarke Moore. He was the author of “A Visit from St. Nicholas” (“'Twas the night before Christmas”) and the seminary's first professor of […]

Geneva Bible

English translation of the Bible published at Geneva, Switzerland, in 1560. Based on translations by William Tyndale and Miles Coverdale, it was the work of Protestant exiles in Geneva. Its notes reflect Calvinist influence. The Geneva Bible was the first English edition with verse numeration. It is known as the “Breeches Bible” because its translation […]

Geneva College

See Hobart College, Geneva, New York.

Genuflection, or Genuflexion

A gesture of reverence in worship. It involves touching a knee briefly to the floor while holding the upper body upright, and then returning to a standing position. It is not required by the Prayer Book at any time. In some parishes it is a customary gesture of reverence for Christ's real presence in the […]

George Mercer, Jr

, Memorial School of Theology. In Feb. 1955, Bishop James P. DeWolfe initiated a new form for alternative theological training by establishing the School of Theology of the Diocese of Long Island. It was a program designed for training older men for the ministry. The school met regularly at St. Paul's Boys School and in […]

Georgia, Diocese of

The primary convention of the Diocese of Georgia was held Feb. 24-28, 1823, at St. Paul's Church, Augusta. The first bishop of the diocese was not consecrated until 1841. The diocese left the Protestant Episcopal Church on July 3, 1861, and joined the Protestant Episcopal Church in the Confederate States of America. It reunited with […]


Stylized motions of the body, especially the arms and hands, during worship. Along with postures, these natural and instinctive motions express in a nonverbal, kinetic way the meaning of the action. Over the centuries many gestures once made by all the people came to be made only by the presider. Liturgical reform has included the […]

Gifts of the Spirit

Five NT texts form the basis for understanding the gifts of the Spirit, known as the charismata in Greek. These texts include 1 Cor 12:1-14:40, Rom 12:8, Eph 4:11-12, Rom 1:11, and 1 Cor 2:14. The lists of gifts in the NT passages are neither exhaustive nor entirely consistent. Apostles, prophets, and teachers are mentioned […]


See Cincture.


The term is derived from a Latin word meaning “clod” or “soil.” Glebes were farm lands set aside for the support of the clergy in American colonies where the Church of England was established. These glebes sometimes included homes, barns, and slaves. Glebes were usually two hundred or more acres. It could be farmed to […]

Glebe House, Woodbury, Connecticut

Site of the first episcopal election in the United States. Built around 1750, Glebe House was the rectory for St. Paul's Church, Woodbury. The Rev. John Rutgers Marshall lived there from 1771 until 1785. On Mar. 25, 1783, ten clergy met there and selected Samuel Seabury and Jeremiah Leaming as candidates for Bishop of Connecticut. […]

Gloria in Excelsis

“Glory in the highest,” a short hymn of praise to the Trinity. Its opening verse is based on the song of the angels to the shepherds at the time of Jesus' birth, as reported in Lk 2:14. It is known as the “Angelic Hymn.” It is also known as the “Greater Doxology,” distinguishing it from […]

Gloria Patri

A short acclamation of praise to the Trinity. "Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit: as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be for ever. Amen." The term is from the opening words of the acclamation in Latin. Gloria Patri is also known as the "Lesser […]

Gloria Tibi

“Glory to you, Lord Christ.” The term is from the opening words of the statement in Latin. It is the people's response to the announcement of the gospel at the eucharist (BCP, p. 357). It precedes the reading of the gospel. This response at the announcement of the gospel in the Roman rite was retained […]


Ecstatic utterance as an expression of faith and praise for God. This Greek term designates the phenomenon of “speaking in new tongues” promised in Mk 16:17. For Paul (1 Cor 14:1-20), speaking in tongues is praise of God. It is not edification of the faithful unless an inspired interpreter is available. In Pentecostal churches and […]


The term (from the Greek gnosis, “knowledge”) refers to a loosely defined group of religious sects which flourished near the beginning of the Christian era. They were all syncretistic, incorporating elaborate myths, elements of Hellenistic mystery cults, Greek philosophy and mythology, and features of Christian and Jewish faith. Some gnostic teachers regarded themselves as Christians, […]


See Sponsor (at Baptism).

Godwin, Morgan

(1640-c. 1690). Missionary and author. He was baptized at Bicknor, Gloucestershire, England, on Dec. 2, 1640. Godwin (sometimes spelled Godwyn) studied at Christ Church, Oxford, and graduated in 1664. He was ordained deacon and priest and began his ministry in Virginia in 1666. Godwin returned to England around 1670 and served several cures before his […]

Gold, William Jason

(June 17, 1845-Jan. 11, 1903). Theologian, liturgist, and seminary professor. He was born in Washington, D.C. Gold studied first at Columbia College and graduated from Harvard College in 1865. He attended General Seminary for two years, 1865-1867, and then Seabury Hall from 1867 until 1868. Gold was ordained deacon on June 7, 1868, and priest […]

103 records

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.