An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church

Glossary of Terms

Three-Decker Pulpit

A structure in which the clerk's pew was on the lowest level, the officiant's reading pew was on the middle level, and the pulpit was on the highest level. It was typically located in the nave. With this arrangement, the sermon was preached from the highest level of the structure. The “three-Decker” pulpit came into […]

Throne, Episcopal

The bishop's official and ceremonial seat. It is also known as the cathedra, from the Latin for chair. It is typically located in the cathedral of the diocese. The term “cathedral” is derived from cathedra, in that the cathedral is the church where the bishop's chair is located. The episcopal throne is a symbol of […]


A small metal pot on chains in which incense is burned during the eucharist and other liturgies. The thurible is also known as a censer. The term is derived from the Latin for “incense.” Fragrant smoke is produced when incense is spooned onto hot charcoals inside the thurible. The smoke escapes through holes in the […]


The server or acolyte who carries and swings the thurible in which incense is burned during the eucharist and other liturgies. The thurifer, the celebrant, the deacon, or other ministers may use the thurible in the ceremonial censing of people or objects such as the gospel book or altar. The thurifer may be assisted by […]

Tiffany Window

A stained glass window by the American artist Louis Comfort Tiffany (1848-1933). Tiffany was a native of New York City. He used an original process for making opalescent glass which was called “favrile.” Tiffany built a factory at Cirona, New York, in 1878 to produce this glass. These stained glass windows are highly prized for […]

Tiffany, Charles Comfort

(Oct. 5, 1829-Aug. 20, 1907). Episcopal Church historian. He was born in Baltimore, Maryland. Tiffany received his M.A. from Dickinson College in 1853. He studied at the Andover Theological Seminary. He also studied at the Universities of Halle, Heidelberg, and Berlin. Tiffany was ordained deacon on July 15, 1866, and priest on Nov. 11, 1866. […]


(1 Thes 3:2; see also Rom 16:21). He is credited by Paul with co-authoring Paul's Second Letter to the Corinthians, and Paul's Letters to the Philippians, the Colossians, and to Philemon. Timothy and Silvanus are identified as co-authors of Paul's First and Second Letters to the Thessalonians. Timothy's mother was a Jewish Christian, and his […]

Tindal, William

(See Tyndale, or Tindal, William.)


A large black scarf worn by clergy over surplice and cassock at the Daily Offices. It resembles a stole and is worn around the neck with the ends hanging down the front. It may be ornamented by emblems such as the Episcopal Church seal or the insignia of the wearer's seminary.


A tenth of a person's income, usually mandated for sacred purposes. Tithing was a practice in Israel but not unique to Israel. It was well known throughout the ancient Near East from at least the fourteenth century B.C., particularly in Mesopotamia. The first reference to a tithe in the OT is the one that Abraham […]


(2 Cor 8:23). Titus and Barnabas went with Paul to Jerusalem at the time of the apostolic council (c. 50) (Gal 2:1). This council decided to accept Gentiles as full members of the church. Although Titus was a Greek, he was not compelled to be circumcised (Gal 2:3). Paul sent Titus as his representative to […]

Tohuku, Missionary District of

The House of Bishops voted on Oct. 27, 1920, to divide the Missionary District of Tokyo and establish the Missionary District of Tohoku. In Apr. 1941 the Missionary District of Tohoku became a diocese in the Holy Catholic Church in Japan.

Tokyo, Missionary District of

The 1872 General Convention established the Missionary District of Yedo in Japan. In 1893 the name was changed to the Missionary District of Tokyo. On Oct. 15, 1925, the name was changed to the Missionary District of North Tokyo. In 1938 the name was changed again to the Missionary District of North Kwanto. It became […]


A traditional shaving of the head for monks and diocesan clergy. The tonsure was a point of friction between Celtic and Latin monks in the British Isles of the seventh and eighth centuries. The Celtic monks shaved the fore part of the head; Latin monks shaved the center part of the head, leaving a crown […]

Tonus Peregrinus

A Latin title for a medieval psalm tone. In translation it means a foreign or wandering tone. In the psalm tone, Tonus peregrinus, there is a different pitch for the reciting tone for each half of the chant. Historically it is associated with the singing of Ps. 114, which triumphantly recalls “when Israel came out […]


A Hebrew noun coming from the verb “to teach.” It has the basic meaning of teaching or instruction, but it is usually translated law. Although in the OT it can refer to teaching, it most commonly indicates that which comes from God. It first seems to have been used for a single commandment (e.g., Ex […]

Torch Bearer

An acolyte or server who carries a torch in procession, including the gospel procession. See Torches.


Candles mounted on poles for use in the liturgy. Lighted torches may be carried by acolytes or servers in procession, including the gospel procession. Torches may be placed near the altar and the ambo or lectern. Torches are used to enhance the solemnity and festivity of worship. See Pavement Lights.


See Loyalists.

Total Ministry

A model of pastoral oversight based on the development of the ministry of the whole church, lay and ordained. This model seeks to provide a comprehensive program for the education of the laity for ministry. It also seeks to insure that the laity are able to exercise their ministry by sharing fully in the power […]

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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.