An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church

Glossary of Terms


In the sacramental rite of Reconciliation of a Penitent, penance is a task assigned by the priest to the person who has confessed his or her sins. It is something […]


Prayer in which we confess our sins and make restitution where possible, with the intention to amend our lives (BCP, p. 857). The Prayer Book Catechism identifies penitence as one […]


A person seeking the church's ministry of reconciliation by making a confession to a confessor. The Reconciliation of a Penitent is one of the sacramental rites of the Episcopal Church […]

Penitential Order

The eucharist may begin with a penitential order (BCP, pp. 319-321, 351-353). The Penitential Order includes an acclamation and the confession of sin and absolution. It may also include the […]

Penitential Psalms

In the Christian liturgical tradition seven psalms have been singled out as penitential psalms: 6, 32, 38, 51, 102, 130, 143. They express human penitence for sin before God and […]

Penitentials (Penitential Books)

Manuals or guides for confessors, including prayers, lists of questions to be asked by the confessor, and penances to be assigned for various sins. The practice of private penance, or […]

Penniman, Charles Frederic

(July 14, 1893-Aug. 16, 1963). Priest and educator. He was born in Asheville, North Carolina, and studied at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and Harvard University. He received his Master in Engineering […]

Pennington, Edgar Legare

(Jan. 15, 1891-Dec. 10, 1951). Historian of the Episcopal Church. He was born in Madison, Georgia. Pennington received his B.A. in 1911 and his LL.B. in 1914, both from the […]

Pennsylvania, Diocese of

Organized at Christ Church, Philadelphia, on May 24, 1784, the diocese was divided in 1865 and again in 1871. The Diocese of Pennsylvania includes the following counties: Bucks, Chester, Delaware, […]


The biblical books of Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. The term is from the Greek for “five” and “book.” The Pentateuch is traditionally called the Five Books of Moses. […]


The term means “the fiftieth day.” It is used in both the OT and the NT. In the OT it refers to a feast of seven weeks known as the […]

Pentecost (Season)

The season after Pentecost, according to the calendar of the church year (BCP, p. 32). It begins on the Monday following Pentecost, and continues through most of the summer and […]


The term refers to a wide variety of churches and movements that claim to re-experience the spiritual gifts associated with the outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, most notably […]

Per Saltum (Ordination)

See Direct Ordination.


This term means interpenetration and mutual indwelling of the three Persons of the Trinity. This understanding maintains the distinction and unity of the divine Persons. It avoids the trinitarian heresies […]


This Greek word used by scripture scholars refers to a certain portion of a text. The word literally means “cut around.” A pericope is a section of text that, if […]

Perkins, Frances

(Apr. 10, 1880-May 14, 1965). First woman cabinet member in the United States. She was born Fannie Coralie Perkins in Boston, Massachusetts. She received her B.A. at Mount Holyoke College […]

Perpetua and her Companions

(d. c. 202). Catechumen and martyr. Perpetua and her companions Felicitas, Revocatus, Saturninus, Secundulus, and Saturus were Christians imprisoned in Carthage under Emperor Septimius Severus. All of them may have […]

Perquisite, Perquisites

Payment or benefits in addition to a regular salary. They are known informally as “perks.” The term may be applied to benefits in the compensation package for a member of […]

Perry, James DeWolf

(Oct. 3, 1871-Mar. 20, 1947). Eighteenth Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church. He was born in Germantown, Pennsylvania. Perry received his B.A. from the University of Pennsylvania in 1891 and […]

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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.