An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church

Glossary of Terms

Biretta Belt

Slang expression for dioceses in the vicinity of the Great Lakes that were once considered to be characterized by Anglo-catholic practices. The term is derived from the traditional fondness of […]


One of the three orders of ordained ministers in the church, bishops are charged with the apostolic work of leading, supervising, and uniting the church. Bishops represent Christ and his […]

Bishop and Council

In some dioceses, Bishop and Council is the group which exercises all powers of the diocesan convention between meetings of the convention. It consists of the bishop; bishop coadjutor, if […]

Bishop Coadjutor

Assistant bishop with the right of succession upon the resignation of the diocesan bishop. Before a bishop coadjutor is elected, the diocesan bishop must consent to such an election and […]

Bishop Payne Divinity School

A former seminary of the Episcopal Church to train African American men for the ministry. On Oct. 2, 1878, the Virginia Theological Seminary (VTS) opened a branch seminary for Negroes […]

Bishop Potter Memorial House

This training house for women church workers was opened in Philadelphia in 1867. Mr. and Mrs. William Welsh of St. Mark's Church, Philadelphia, were the leading founders. It was named […]

Bishop Seabury University

Intended predecessor of the Seabury Divinity School. James Lloyd Breck went to Faribault, Minnesota, in 1858, with the desire to establish a university. It was to be called the Bishop […]

Bishop Visitor or Protector

The bishop named to have an official, canonical relationship with a religious order. Each order must designate a Bishop Visitor or Protector, who serves as guardian of the order's constitution […]


A presbyter elected to the episcopate but not yet ordained and consecrated. The term may also apply to a person who is already a bishop in one jurisdiction, who has […]

Bishop, Provisional

A bishop authorized to serve a diocese whose own bishop is unable to fulfill that ministry due to disability or judicial sentence. The convention of a diocese may choose a […]

Bishop’s Staff

See Crozier, or Crosier.


Bishops also preside at services of Confirmation, Reception, or Reaffirmation. Bishops bless altars and fonts, and the blessing of chalices and patens and church bells are traditionally reserved for the […]

Bishops’ Crusade

The Commission on Evangelism, in July, 1925, made an impassioned report to the National Council concerning evangelism and the church. It called for the Episcopal Church to make evangelism its […]

Black Fast

The custom of observing the two great Prayer Book fast days, Ash Wednesday and Good Friday, by eating no food at all. This was observed as a pious custom by […]

Black Letter Days

Lesser feasts of the church year. About sixty-seven lesser feasts were added to the calendar of the English Prayer Book in 1567. These lesser feasts became known as black-letter days. […]

Black Rubric, The

Name usually given to the “Declaration on Kneeling” that was printed at the end of the rite for Holy Communion in the 1552 BCP. The “Declaration” was understood to deny […]

Blair, James

(c. 1656-Apr. 18, 1743). Commissary to Virginia and Founder of the College of William and Mary. He was born in Scotland. Blair received his M.A. from the University of Edinburgh […]


(d. 177). She was a virgin slave girl. Blandina was one of forty-eight Christians who were martyred at Lyons, France, during a persecution by the Emperor Marcus Aurelius. Her heroic […]


An expression of contempt for God. A Scottish jurist in the seventeenth century characterized it as “treason against God.” The term has been used differently in different eras. Understandings of […]

Blessed Sacrament

The term may indicate the sacrament of the eucharist, or the consecrated eucharistic elements of bread and wine, or the reservation of the consecrated elements. Christ's body and blood are […]

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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.