An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church

Glossary of Terms

R (r)

See Response.


A vest or shirtfront worn by clergy. It is usually black, and often worn over a white shirt with long sleeves. The clerical collar is attached to the rabat.

Racine College, Racine, Wisconsin

The Episcopal Diocesan Council of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, in 1851, felt the need for an Episcopal college in southeastern Wisconsin, to prepare young men for the seminary at Nashotah House, as […]

Rainsford, William Stephen

(Oct. 30, 1850-Dec. 17, 1933). Priest and social reformer. He was born near Dublin, Ireland. Rainsford received his B.A. from St. John's College, Cambridge, in 1872. He was ordained deacon […]

Rakestraw, Caroline Leiding

(June 28, 1912-Oct. 29, 1993). Broadcast media pioneer for the Episcopal Church. She was a native of Atlanta, Georgia, and served as executive secretary to the Bishop of Atlanta and […]

Ramsey, Michael

(Nov. 14, 1904-Apr. 23, 1988). A significant Anglican theologian and Archbishop of Canterbury from 1961 to 1974. His work as a theologian began with The Gospel and the Catholic Church […]

Ratcliffe, Robert

(1657-1700). First rector of King's Chapel, Boston. He was a graduate of Exeter College, Oxford University, and appointed by the Bishop of London to minister in Boston. Ratcliffe arrived in […]


In Christian theology, rationalism (from the Latin ratio, meaning “reason”) indicates a mode of thought in which human reason is the ultimate authority in establishing religious truth. In normative Anglican […]

Ravenscroft, John Stark

(May 17, 1772-Mar. 5, 1830). Bishop and high churchman. He was born in Blandford in Prince George's County, Maryland. Ravenscroft studied law at the College of William and Mary, but […]


See Lector; see Lay Reader.

Reading Desk

See Reading Pew.

Reading Pew

A small pew used by the officiant who led Morning or Evening Prayer. It was also known as the reading desk. Historically, it was also used for reading the litany, […]

Reaffirmation of Baptismal Vows

The BCP refers to those persons already baptized who are presented to the bishop in the context of a service of Baptism or Confirmation to reaffirm their baptismal vows. These […]

Real Presence

The presence of Christ in the sacrament of the Holy Eucharist. The 1991 statement of the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission notes, “The elements are not mere signs; Christ's body and […]

Realized Eschatology

See Eschatology.


One of the three sources of authority in Anglicanism, along with scripture and tradition. Reason interprets scripture and tradition and allows itself to be corrected and enlarged by them. Reason […]


To retract. Used especially in regard to a charge of ecclesiastical misdoing or heresy, the word meant to repent of a prohibited or heretical act. The word is no longer […]


This theological term indicates that fallen humanity has been “reheaded” and reconstituted in Christ. The term is from the Greek anacephalaeosis, “summing up” or “summary.” It is found in the […]

Reception (Christian Commitment)

Baptized persons who have been members of another Christian fellowship and who wish to be affiliated with the Episcopal Church may make a public affirmation of their faith and commitment […]

Reception (of Doctrine)

Consent of the faithful to statements of the church's faith. An ancient view states that the truth of a doctrine is known by the universality of its reception or acceptance […]

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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.