An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church

Glossary of Terms

Parish Profile

An instrument that provides important information concerning a parish, including information about the parish's services and programs, budget, parish life and goals, and previous clergy. The standardized form that is […]

Parish Register

The formal record of the various official acts in a parish church. Canon 15 of the Constitution and Canons of 1789 required every minister of the church to keep a […]

Parker, Matthew

(Aug. 6, 1504-May 17, 1575). The first Archbishop of Canterbury under Queen Elizabeth. Parker was responsible for enacting and enforcing the Elizabethan Settlement. He studied at St. Mary's Hostel, Cambridge […]


Concerning a parish. For example, parochial clergy serve in parishes.

Parochial Mission

A mission that is supported by a parish. The supporting parish may provide the aided congregation with staff and program assistance in addition to financial support.

Parochial Report (Annual Report)

This report is the official data-gathering instrument of the Episcopal Church. Each parish or congregation files this report annually with the diocesan bishop. A copy of each Parochial Report is […]


A Greek word meaning “presence” or “arrival,” parousia is often translated as “second coming.” It is part of the area of theology called eschatology, the study of the last things […]


The member of the clergy, typically a priest or presbyter, with pastoral responsibility for a parish. In medieval times, the rector of a parish was the parson, or legal “person” […]

Parsons, Edward Lambe

(May 18, 1868-July 19, 1960). Bishop and liturgist. He was born in New York City. Parsons received his B.A. in 1889 from Yale, and graduated from Union Theological Seminary, New […]


This term for Easter is from the Latin and Greek Pascha, which transliterated the Hebrew pesach, “Passover.” It was used both for the Jewish Passover and the Christian Easter. The […]

Pascha nostrum (Christ our Passover)

The term literally means “our passover” in Latin. It has two distinguishable meanings in the BCP. 1) Canticle based on 1 Cor 5:7-8, Rom 6:9-11, and 1 Cor 15:20-22. It […]

Paschal Candle

A large candle that symbolizes the risen Christ. It is often decorated with a cross, symbols of the resurrection, the Greek letters Alpha and Omega, and the year. The term […]

Paschal Mystery

In this context, the word “mystery” means a transcendent purpose of God. It exceeds human understanding, but we have some knowledge and experience of it. Paschal means pertaining to Easter […]


The redemptive suffering of Jesus Christ in the events surrounding his death. The term is from the Latin passio, “suffering.” A gospel narrative of the Passion is called the Passion. […]

Passion Sunday

See Palm Sunday (The Sunday of the Passion).


A Jewish festival of eight days that celebrates the events leading to the Jewish Exodus from Egypt. According to the accounts of the Book of Exodus, a lamb was sacrificed […]

Pastor, Pastoral Ministry

The word “pastor” derives from the work of tending sheep: a pastor is one who cares for sheep. The term came into the Christian understanding of the ordained ministry because […]

Pastoral Care

The ministry of caring at the heart of the church's life. It may include hospital visitation, counseling, and ministries of shared presence, listening, and support. Pastoral care can refer to […]

Pastoral Leader

A lay person licensed under special circumstances to exercise pastoral or administrative responsibility in a congregation. A pastoral leader may be licensed to lead regularly the offices authorized by the […]

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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.