An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church

Glossary of Terms

Benedictus es, Domine

Canticle based on the Apocryphal Song of the Three Young Men, verses 29-34. The canticle offers glory and praise to God, and concludes with a doxology. It is also known […]

Benedictus qui venit

The anthem “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord. Hosanna in the highest,” which follows the Sanctus in the eucharistic prayer. It may be sung or […]

Bennett, Dennis Joseph

(Oct. 28, 1917-Nov. 1, 1991). The “father of charismatic renewal in the Episcopal Church.” He was born in London, England. His family moved to the United States when he was […]

Benson, Richard Meux

(July 6, 1824-Jan. 14, 1915). A founder of the Society of St. John the Evangelist. He was born in London. Benson received the M.A. at Christ Church, Oxford, in 1849. […]

Berakoth (singular Berakah)

The Hebrew word for blessings. Typically, they begin, “Blessed are you, Lord our God, King of the universe,” followed by naming that for which God is blessed, such as “who […]

Berkeley Divinity School

One of eleven Episcopal seminaries in the U.S. It was founded by Bishop John Williams of Connecticut. It began in 1849 as the theological department of Trinity College, Hartford, and […]

Berkeley, George

(Mar. 12, 1684-Jan. 12, 1753). Priest and educator. He was born in Kilcrin, near Thomastown, Kilkenny, Ireland, and educated at Trinity College, Dublin. He was ordained in 1707, and in […]

Berkeley, William

(1606-July 9, 1677). Colonial governor of Virginia. He was born in or near London and educated at Queen's College and Merton College, Oxford University. He was governor of Virginia from […]


(1090-Aug. 20, 1153). Influential monk who was called the “Pope maker” and “the uncrowned emperor of Europe.” He was born in Fontaines, France, and entered the Cistercian monastery at Citeaux, […]

Berry, Martha McChesney

(Oct. 7, 1866-Feb. 27, 1942). Founder of Berry College. She was born and grew up at Oak Hill, a cotton plantation near Rome, Georgia. She inherited a substantial estate in […]

Bethany, College of the Sisters of, Topeka, Kansas

On Feb. 2, 1861, the Kansas legislature granted a charter for “The Episcopal Female Seminary of Topeka.” On June 10, 1861, the school opened with thirty-three students. On July 9, […]

Bethlehem, Diocese of

The General Convention of 1871 voted to divide the Diocese of Pennsylvania. On Nov. 8-10, 1871, the primary convention of the Diocese of Central Pennsylvania met at St. Stephen's Church, […]


A free and faithful promise of future marriage between two persons. It was an ancient Roman custom for a man to give a woman a ring as a sign of […]

Bexley Hall

It was founded on Nov. 4, 1824, by Bishop Philander Chase and the Diocese of Ohio as “The Theological Seminary of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the Diocese of Ohio.” […]

Bible, The

Holy Scriptures of the OT and NT, written under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, containing all things necessary to salvation. The OT reveals God’s mighty acts in creation, the […]

Bidding Prayer

An informal intercessory prayer, covering a wide variety of concerns such as the church, the state, the living and the dead, and public and private necessities. It followed the sermon […]


A stand or frame on which a corpse, or a coffin containing a corpse, rests during the burial rite. A bier may also be used to carry the corpse or […]

Bilateral Dialogues

Ecumenical dialogues that are held between two churches (“two-sided”), rather than “multilateral” or between many churches. Typically, each of the two churches appoints about ten representatives to the dialogue, and […]


The ethics of life. As a field of study bioethics has expanded from an initial focus on medicine and health care to a focus on life itself. It includes both […]


Stiff, brimless, three- or four-sided cap worn by clergy on ceremonial occasions. It is black if worn by a priest, and purple if worn by a bishop. The biretta may […]

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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.