An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church

Glossary of Terms

Alexander, George Mayer

(May 15, 1914-Jan. 9, 1983). Bishop and seminary dean. He was born in Jacksonville, Florida. He received his B.A. (1938) and his B.D. (1939) from the University of the South. He was ordained deacon on July 2, 1939, and priest on Jan. 14, 1940. From 1939 to 1945, he served several small churches in Florida […]

Alfred the Great

(849-Oct. 26, 899). Saxon king and patron of the church. He was born in Wantage, Berkshire, England. He became King of Wessex in 871, and spent most of his time fighting the invading Danes. He was able to halt their invasion and secure the southern part of England for the English. Alfred defeated the Danish […]

All Faithful Departed, Commemoration of

This optional observance is an extension of All Saints' Day. While All Saints' is to remember all the saints, popular piety felt the need to distinguish between outstanding saints and those who are unknown in the wider fellowship of the church, especially family members and friends. Commemoration of All Faithful Departed did not appear in […]

All Hallows’ Eve

The evening of Oct. 31, which precedes the church's celebration of All Saints' Day on Nov. 1. The BOS provides a form for a service on All Hallows' Eve. This service begins with the Prayer for Light, and it includes two or more readings from scripture. The options for the readings include the Witch of […]

All Saints’ Day

Commemorates all saints, known and unknown, on Nov. 1. All Saints' Day is one of the seven principal feasts of the church year, and one of the four days recommended for the administration of baptism. All Saints' Day may also be celebrated on the Sunday following Nov. 1.

All Saints’ Episcopal College, Vicksburg, Mississippi

The college was founded by Bishop Theodore DuBose Bratton and opened on Sept. 16, 1909. It was a junior college and high school for women. In 1943 the dioceses of Arkansas and Louisiana joined Mississippi in ownership, and in 1962 the name was changed from All Saints' Junior College to All Saints' School. Men have […]

All Souls’ Day

See All Faithful Departed, Commemoration of.


A liturgical expression of praise, “Praise ye the Lord,” from the Hebrew Hallelujah. The BCP states that Alleluia is omitted during Lent. See Hallelujah.

Alleluia Verse

Alleluias or alleluia psalms that are said or sung immediately before the gospel at the eucharist.

Allen, Alexander Viets Griswold

(May 4, 1841-July 1, 1908). Theologian and broad churchman. He was born in a vicarage in western Massachusetts to a family deeply rooted in the Episcopal Church of New England. Educated at Kenyon College, Bexley Hall, and Andover Theological Seminary, he was ordained deacon on July 5, 1865, and priest on June 24, 1866. He […]

Allen, Benjamin

(Sept. 29, 1789-Jan. 13, 1829). Poet and publisher. Born in Hudson, New York, and raised a Presbyterian, he became an Episcopalian and moved to Virginia in 1814 where he worked among African Americans at Charlestown. In 1815 he founded and edited the weekly paper, The Layman's Magazine, which was published until Nov. 1816 at Martinsburg, […]

Allen, Ethan

(1796-Nov. 21, 1879). Church historian. He was born in Plymouth County, Massachusetts, and raised in the Congregational Church. Allen graduated from Middlebury College in 1818. He then went to Prince George County, Maryland, as a lay reader in the Episcopal Church. He was ordained deacon on Mar. 7, 1819. He served parishes in Maryland, Washington, […]

Allen, Roland

(Dec. 29, 1868-June 9, 1947). English missionary and writer. He was educated at Oxford and ordained deacon on Dec. 18, 1892, and priest on Dec. 21, 1893 in the Church of England. He went to North China as a missionary in 1895 but was sent home in 1903 because of poor health. He served briefly […]

Allen, Sturges

(June 25, 1850-Mar. 26, 1929). Founding member of the Order of the Holy Cross and missionary to Liberia. He was born in Hyde Park, New York. Allen received his B.S. from the City University of New York in 1869 and his B.D. from the General Theological Seminary in 1880. He was ordained deacon on May […]

Allin, John Maury

(Apr. 22, 1921-Mar. 6, 1998). Twenty-third Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church. He was the sixth Bishop of Mississippi from May 31, 1966 to June 1, 1974, and Presiding Bishop from June 1, 1974 to Dec. 31, 1985. He was born in Helena, Arkansas, and received his B.A. (1943) and B.D. (1945) from the University […]


Offerings of money and other gifts at the eucharist and at other times intended to express Christian charity for the needs of the church and the world. See Offering, Offerings.

Alms Basin

A plate, basket, or other container used to collect and present the alms given by the congregation.


(954-Apr. 19, 1012). Also known as Aelfheah, Elphege, or Godwine. Alphege was an anchorite monk near Bath, England, until Nov. 19, 984, when he was consecrated Bishop of Winchester. In Nov. 1006, he was translated to the Archbishopric of Canterbury. He served there until he was murdered by the Danes during a drunken feast. Alphege […]


The structure, also known as “the Lord's Table,” “the Holy Table,” and “the Table,” where the offerings are presented and the elements of bread and wine are consecrated in the eucharist.

Altar Book, The

The book containing prayers and music needed by the celebrant for the regular celebration of the eucharist. In addition to prayers and chants for the various eucharistic services, the Altar Book includes materials for Ash Wednesday and Holy Week services, along with a Musical Appendix that provides optional settings for parts of the service that […]

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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.