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 well as to prepare others for professional and business careers. The Rev. Joseph H. Nichols, rector of St. Luke's Episcopal Church in Racine, with other […]

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 on Dec. 21, 1873, and priest on Dec. 20, 1874. He began his ministry at St. Giles's Church, Norwich, and came to the United States […]

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 produced his radio talks. In 1954 she founded and became the first executive director of the Episcopal Radio-TV Foundation. She won awards for her television […]

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 (1936), an ecumenical and biblical study which established his reputation as a major voice in Anglicanism. His later works included The Glory of God and […]

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 Boston on May 15, 1686, and on June 15, 1686, King's Chapel parish was organized with Ratcliffe as the rector. This was the first Church […]


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 theology, reason is treated as one of three related sources of authority, along with scripture and tradition. In Anglican theology, reason allows itself to be […]

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 he never practiced law. He settled in Lunenburg County, Virginia, where for eighteen years he exhibited no interest in religion. Around 1810 he had a […]


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, and the decalogue, the epistle, and the gospel at the eucharist. It was typically located in the nave so that the people could hear the […]

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 might be persons returning to the church after a period of unbelief or those who have entered a new level of spiritual life. The BCP […]

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 blood become really present and are really given. But they are really present and given in order that, receiving them, believers may be united in […]

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 is considered in Anglican thought to be more than calculation and logic, and it draws upon the entirety of human understanding and experience. Reason makes […]


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 found in the canons, but the concept is found in the canon, “Of the Abandonment of the Communion of this Church,” whereby a member of […]


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 statement of Eph 1:10 that God set forth in Christ “to unite (recapitulate) all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.” This […]

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 to the responsibilities of their baptism in the presence of a bishop. The bishop lays hands on each candidate for reception and says, “We recognize […]

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 in the church. Under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, the entire church can receive and recognize God's truth in Christ. Whenever an attempt is […]

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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.