An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church

Churching of Women

A liturgy for the purification or “churching” of women after childbirth, together with the presentation in church of the child. The rite is based on scriptural sources, especially the ritual purification of Mary and Presentation of Christ in Lk 2: 22-38. Following the title in the Sarum use, Cranmer called the 1549 rite “The Order of the Purification of Women.” In 1552 and later it became “The Thanksgiving of Women after Childbirth,” commonly called the “Churching of Women.” The 1979 BCP, avoiding any hint of ritual impurity, replaces the older rite with “A Thanksgiving for the Birth or Adoption of a Child.” The rite is to take place within the Sunday liturgy, after the intercessions, soon after the birth or adoption. In this service, parents and other family members come to the church with the newly born or adopted child “to be welcomed by the congregation and to give thanks to Almighty God” (BCP, p. 439). See Thanksgiving for the Birth or Adoption of a Child.

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.