An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church


From the Greek ekklesia, “church,” and logia, “doctrine,” the term refers to the doctrine of the church. The Greek word ekklesia (from ek, “out of,” and kalein, “to call”) describes the church as those “called out” by God from worldly existence to a new life in Christ. The account of the origin of the church on Pentecost (Acts 2) emphasizes the gift of the Holy Spirit to all the disciples. The church is described in Paul's Letter to the Ephesians as the body of Christ, with Christ as the head. The Johannine image of “vine and branches” (Jn 15:5) shows that life for the Christian is participation in the life of Christ. In the Treatise on the Laws of Ecclesiastical Polity, Book V, Richard Hooker emphasizes the importance of participation in the life of Christ through participation in the life of the church (especially the sacraments). The church is described in the creeds as one, holy, catholic, and apostolic. The mission of the church is to restore all people to unity with God and each other in Christ. The church carries out its mission through the ministry of all its members, including lay persons, bishops, priests, and deacons. A doctrine of ministry is usually included in ecclesiology. Recognition of the importance of the ministries of all baptized persons has led to a renewal of interest in ecclesiology. See the Catechism, BCP, pp. 854-855.

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.