An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church

Eastward Position

The posture of the presider who stands at the altar with his or her back to the people. In churches oriented with the altar at the east end, as was once customary, the presider would thus be facing east. The practice originated in Rome in the eighth or ninth century. It replaced the ancient westward position, with the presider behind the altar and facing the people. In contemporary usage the westward position has been reintroduced and become common.

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.