An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church

Glossary of Terms


The term is derived from the Greek word for “city.” In general English usage, polity refers to the form of government in a city or nation and the body of […]

Polk, Leonidas

(Apr. 10, 1806-June 14, 1864). Bishop and Confederate general. He was born in Raleigh, North Carolina. In 1821 he matriculated at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. In 1823 […]

Polly Bond Awards

Awards established in the mid-1970s by the Episcopal Communicators to acknowledge excellence and achievement in the ministry of church communications. They are named in honor of Polly Bond (1914-1979), one-time […]


(d. Feb. 23, 156). Bishop and martyr. He was born in the second half of the first century and became the Bishop of Smyrna in Asia Minor (Turkey). Polycarp is […]

Polyphony, Choral

Contrapuntal, or “many voiced,” choral compositions in which the vocal lines are conceived as independent melodies that are woven together into a complex whole. This style of music is “linear” […]

Pope, Clarence Cullam, Jr.

(b. Oct. 26, 1929). Leading traditionalist bishop. He was born in Lafayette, Louisiana. Pope received his B.A. from Centenary College in 1950, and his B.D. from the University of the […]


See Minor Orders.

Porter, Harry Boone

(Jan. 10, 1923-June 5, 1999). Priest, liturgical scholar, professor, editor, and missioner. He was born in Louisville, Kentucky. He received his B.A. from Yale University in 1947 and his S.T.B. […]

Position Paper

A paper issued by the House of Bishops which expresses the position of the House on any given subject or issue. The House of Bishops may require the dissemination of […]


A relativistic movement that denies the existence of absolute meaning and the possibility of objective knowledge of reality. It contradicts the attempt of the Enlightenment to reach absolute truth through […]

Postcommunion Prayer

A prayer of thanksgiving after communion that also seeks God's help for Christian service. The eucharistic community is sent “into the world in peace” to love and serve God as […]

Postulant (Holy Orders, Monastic)

One who tests a vocation such as a vocation to an ordained ministry or the religious life. Postulants for holy orders seek ordination as deacon or priest. The length of […]

Potter, Alonzo

(July 6, 1800-July 4, 1865). Bishop and educator. He was born in Beekman (La Grange), Dutchess County, New York. He graduated from Union College, Schenectady, New York, in 1818. In […]

Potter, Henry Codman

(May 25, 1835-July 21, 1908). Bishop and advocate of social justice. He was born in Schenectady, New York, and was the son of Alonzo Potter, the third Bishop of Pennsylvania. […]

Potter, Horatio

(Feb. 9, 1802-Jan. 2, 1887). Bishop and educator. He was born in Beekman (La Grange), Dutchess County, New York. He received his B.A. from Union College, Schenectady, New York, in […]

Praise (Prayer)

Loving worship of God in prayer. We may respond with praise for God's mighty deeds throughout salvation history. The Canticle Te Deum laudamus (Canticle 21, BCP, pp. 95-96), begins, “You […]


The experience of corporate or individual nearness with God, through words, acts, or silence. Any act or activity offered to God in a spirit of dedication may be prayerful. This […]

Prayer Book

See Book of Common Prayer, The (“BCP”).

Prayer Book Commentary

A comprehensive study of the liturgical and theological background of a Prayer Book. During the Puritan Commonwealth in England, when the BCP was outlawed, two systematic commentaries were published: Anthony […]

Prayer Book Concordance, The

An examination of word usage in the 1979 BCP. This volume was published in 1988 by the Church Hymnal Corporation. It was edited by Galen Bushey. There are 6,423 separate […]

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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.