An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church

Glossary of Terms


When burned or heated, usually over charcoal, certain woods and solidified resins give off a fragrant smoke. Both the materials and the smoke are called incense. Incense was widely used in Judaism and other cultures of the ancient world as a means of sacrifice, purification, and veneration. Frankincense or pure incense, the resin of certain […]


The opening phrase or word of a text. The term is from the Latin, “it begins.” It may refer to the opening words of the text of a psalm or to the introductory words of a medieval manuscript or early printed book. The incipit may also serve as the title of the text. The BCP […]

Inclusive Language

Spoken and written language that intentionally avoids word use that is needlessly gender-specific or exclusive. Inclusive language also means the use of male and female imagery and metaphors in a balanced way to express the truths we know of God. Inclusive language may challenge the church to discover new depths of meaning and possibility in […]


The member of the clergy, typically a priest, who holds and has pastoral responsibility for a parochial charge. The incumbent may be a rector, a vicar, or a priest-in-charge.

Independence Day

Commemoration of the signing of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776. It is a legal holiday in the United States. The 1785 General Convention directed that a service be drawn up for this day, and “That the said form of prayer be used in this Church, on the fourth of July, for ever.” […]

Independent Bishops

Independent bishops are those persons who hold the title bishop or archbishop in an irregular manner. Although they derive their authority through the traditional lineage of bishops reaching back through the ancient patriarchical sees of Rome, Jerusalem, Alexandria, Antioch, Canterbury, and Constantinople to the Apostles, they have neither organizational connection nor intercommunion with these traditional […]

Indianapolis, Diocese of

Jackson Kemper was consecrated the Missionary Bishop of Indiana and Missouri on Sept. 25, 1835. On Aug. 24-27, 1838, the Diocese of Indiana was organized at Christ Church, Madison, Indiana. The General Convention of 1898 voted to divide the diocese. On Sept. 1, 1902, the name was changed to the Diocese of Indianapolis. The Diocese […]


See Celebration of a New Ministry.

Inerrancy, Biblical

The belief that the Bible contains no errors, whether theological, moral, historical, or scientific. Sophisticated holders of this theory, however, stress that the biblical manuscripts as originally written in Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek were inerrant, but not those that are presently available. Some more conservative scholars are reluctant to speak of inerrancy, but choose to […]

Infallibility, Papal

The dogma of the Roman Catholic Church that the Pope is preserved from error in the teaching of revealed truth. This dogma was formulated in the decree Pastor Aeternus of Vatican Council I (1870). It was slightly reformulated at Vatican II in its dogmatic constitution on the church, Lumen Gentium, which stated that when the […]

Infant Communion

Receiving communion was the climax of the baptismal rite for infants as well as adults until the thirteenth century in the west. Canon law asserted that infants should not die without having received communion. Withholding communion from infants was not a reasoned decision but the result of efforts to protect the eucharistic elements from desecration […]

Infusion of Grace

The grace of God may be understood to be “poured into” the human soul. Grace is said to come to us by infusion (from the Latin in and fundere, “to pour”). Although the BCP does not refer to infused grace, the collect for Proper 22, which asks God to “pour upon us the abundance of […]

Inglis, Charles

(1734-Feb. 24, 1816). Church of England clergyman and Loyalist. He was born in Ireland, probably at Glencolumbkille, County Donegal. Inglis came to the American colonies around 1755 and taught in the Free School at Lancaster, Pennsylvania. He went to England in 1758. He was ordained deacon on Sept. 24, 1758, and priest on Dec. 24, […]

Inquirers’ Class

Class for newcomers or visitors who “inquire” about the Episcopal Church. Instruction typically includes information concerning the beliefs, history, worship, and practices of the Episcopal Church. Participants in the class may be known as inquirers. Those who wish to become members of the Episcopal Church may be presented for Confirmation or Reception if they have […]


The initial letters of the inscription in Latin, “Iesus Nazarenus Rex Iudaeorum,” which means “Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.” When Jesus was crucified, Pilate had this inscription placed on the cross. It was written in Hebrew, Latin, and Greek (Jn 19:19-20). INRI is frequently used in depictions of the crucifixion.


See Celebration of a New Ministry.


See Celebration of a New Ministry.

Institution Narrative

Narration in a eucharistic prayer of Jesus' institution of the eucharist at the Last Supper, based on 1 Cor 11:23-26 (see Mt 26:26-29; Mk 14:22-25; Lk 22:14-20). The wording of the institution narrative varies slightly in different eucharistic prayers. The institution narrative states that Jesus gave thanks to God, broke the bread, gave it to […]

Institution of a Minister, Letter of

During feudal times in England, a Letter of Institution from the bishop was part of the legal process of induction of a priest to a parish. This letter authorized the priest to exercise ministry in the parish. Ceremonies of institution and induction continued in the Anglican Church after the Reformation. In the Episcopal Church, Prayer […]

Institution, Office of

See Office of Institution.

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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.