An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church

Glossary of Terms

Washburn, Henry Bradford

(Dec. 2, 1869-Apr. 25, 1962). Priest and seminary professor. He was born in Worcester, Massachusetts. Washburn received his B.A. from Harvard in 1891 and his B.D. from the Episcopal Theological School in 1894. He was ordained deacon on June 20, 1894, and priest on Sept. 29, 1896. Washburn began his ordained ministry as assistant at […]

Washing of Feet

See Foot Washing.

Washing of the Altar

It is customary for the altar to be stripped after the Maundy Thursday liturgy. The BOS appoints Ps 22 and an antiphon for use if the stripping of the altar is observed as a public ceremony. Stripping the altar may be followed by the washing of the altar. Historically, the stripping and washing of altars […]

Washington College, Chestertown, Maryland

College formerly associated with the Episcopal Church. In early 1780 the Rev. William Smith became the principal of Kent County Free School, Chestertown, Maryland, which began instruction around 1729-1730. Kent School became Washington College on May 24, 1782, by virtue of a charter granted by the Maryland General Assembly “in honorable and perpetual memory of […]

Washington College, Hartford, Connecticut

See Trinity College, Hartford, Connecticut.

Washington National Cathedral

See Cathedral Church of Saint Peter and Saint Paul in the City and Diocese of Washington, The.

Washington Theological Repertory

This monthly journal first appeared in Aug. 1819 and was founded and edited by William Holland Wilmer. Any profits were to go to the Society for the Education of Pious Young Men for the Ministry, and the American Colonization Society. With the Aug. 1823 issue the title was extended to the Washington Theological Repertory and […]

Washington, Diocese of

The 1895 General Convention voted to divide the Diocese of Maryland and form the Diocese of Washington. The new diocese includes the District of Columbia and four Maryland counties: Charles, Prince George's, Montgomery, and St. Mary's. The primary convention of the Diocese was held at St. Andrew's Church, Washington, on Dec. 4-6, 1895. On Sept. […]

Washington, George

(Feb. 22, 1732-Dec. 14, 1799). First President of the United States and Episcopal vestryman. He was born on the family estate “Wakefield” in Westmoreland County, Virginia. Washington was baptized on Apr. 5, 1732, “according to conformity of the Church of England.” He served in the Virginia House of Burgesses, 1759-1774, and was a delegate to […]


A period of “staying awake” for spiritual reasons. Traditionally, watches have been kept before the Blessed Sacrament on the night of Maundy Thursday at the “Altar of Repose.” Watches may also be kept to provide prayer and comfort for the sick or the dying. The term derives in part from Christ's question to his disciples […]

Watchman, The

This periodical appeared in Mar. 1819 and was published in New Haven, Connecticut. There was probably only one issue since no trace of any other issue has appeared.


Water is a major element in religious rituals. It is a natural symbol of birth, fertility, life, and cleansing. To emerge from the waters is to be clean and fresh and new. To wash the body, or even the hands, is symbolically to become clean in an interior sense. Ritually, water is a symbol of […]

Watts, Isaac

(July 17, 1674-Nov. 25, 1748). Nonconformist clergyman. He was born in Southampton, England. He served from 1699 to 1702 as assistant and from 1702 until 1712 as pastor of an independent church in Mark Lane, London. Watts was never robust, and he went into semi-retirement in 1712 at the home of Sir Thomas Abney, where […]

Wattson, Paul James Francis

(Jan. 16, 1863-Feb. 8, 1940). Founder of the Church Unity Octave, which was a precursor of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. He was born in Millington, Maryland, and baptized Lewis Thomas Wattson. He received his B.A. (1882) and his M.A. (1885) from St. Stephen's (Bard) College and his B.D. from the General Theological […]

Way of the Cross (Stations of the Cross)

A devotion to the Passion of Christ which recalls a series of events at the end of Jesus' life from his condemnation to his burial. The Way of the Cross imitates the practice of visiting the places of Jesus' Passion in the Holy Land by early Christian pilgrims. The first stations outside Palestine were built […]

Wayside Cathedral

Founded in 1941 by Bishop Henry Wise Hobson of Southern Ohio, this program provided a “church on wheels” to minister in areas with no Episcopal parish. Its inspiration was a portable office used by Standard Oil. The name “Wayside Cathedral” was suggested by the decision to demolish and not replace the badly dilapidated St. Paul's […]

We Sing of God: A Hymnal for Children

This hymnal, edited by Robert N. Roth and Nancy L. Roth, consists of 108 hymns or selections of service music from The Hymnal 1982 which were chosen with children's understanding of texts and their vocal abilities in mind. A Teacher's Guide, also edited by the Roths, provides commentaries, teaching ideas, and simplified accompaniments. It includes […]

Wedding Ring

See Rings.

Wedel, Cynthia Clark

(Aug. 26, 1908-Aug. 24, 1986). First woman to serve as president of the National Council of Churches. Cynthia Clark was born in Dearborn, Michigan. She grew up in Evanston, Illinois. She earned a B.A. and M.A. from Northwestern University and a Ph.D. from George Washington University in 1957. She served as a youth worker in […]

Wedel, Theodore Otto

(Feb. 19, 1892-July 20, 1970). Preacher, lecturer, and educator. He was born in Halstead, Kansas. Wedel received his B.A. from Oberlin College in 1914, his M.A. from Harvard in 1915, and his Ph.D. from Yale University in 1918. He was instructor in English at Yale, 1919-1922, professor of English at Carleton College, Northfield, Minnesota, 1922-1930, […]

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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.