An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church

Glossary of Terms

Delaware, Diocese of

It was organized on Sept. 26-27, 1786, at Dover. The first bishop was not consecrated until 1841. On May 14, 1935, St. John's Church, Wilmington, was set apart as St. John's Cathedral.

Demby, Edward Thomas

(Feb. 13, 1869-Oct. 14, 1957). First African American Episcopal bishop in the United States. He was born in Wilmington, Delaware. Demby studied at Howard University, and in 1893 received his B.D. from Wilberforce University. He was dean of Paul Quinn College in Texas between 1894 and 1896. Demby was ordained deacon on Mar. 16, 1898, […]


A twentieth-century theological term that was used extensively by Rudolph Bultmann. He understood the word “myth” to be a way to communicate one's faith to others in a time- and culturally-dependent way. For example, in the NT, the writers used the language and specific terminology of their own time to communicate their faith. But it […]

Denver Theological School and the College of St

John the Evangelist. These related educational institutions in Colorado were for the education of clergy. Theological education began at Matthews Hall, Golden, and then moved to Denver in 1879 as the Denver Theological School. The College of St. John the Evangelist, “a theological school for the education of clergy for the West,” operated at Greeley […]

Depose, Sentence of Deposition

Sentence of ecclesiastical discipline pronounced by a bishop that permanently excludes the exercise of ordained ministry by the bishop, priest, or deacon who is deposed. Conditions for deposition are prescribed by the Constitution and Canons of the Episcopal Church.

Deposit of Faith, The

The saving revelation of Christ that has been given to the church, especially as known through biblical witness and tradition. The deposit of faith is to be upheld and proclaimed by the church. This requires fidelity to the received tradition, willingness to rediscover continually the truth of the Christian faith in each time and situation […]


1) In canon law, a deposition is a sentence that removes or deposes a bishop, priest, or deacon from the ordained ministry. A member of the clergy who is deposed is entirely banned from the sacred ministry, and not merely changed from one order to another. For example, a deposed bishop could not serve as […]


A state of corruption that is believed to affect the unredeemed human nature. The doctrine of original sin affirms that the first human beings sinned against the Creator in such a way that their descendants inherit a corrupt nature. It derives by contrast from the scriptural teaching that the divine Word took flesh to redeem […]


Prayer for deliverance. Deprecations in the Great Litany include petitions for deliverance from all evil and wickedness, all blindness of heart, all inordinate and sinful affections, all false doctrine, lightning and tempest, and all oppression. Deprecations in the Great Litany ask for deliverance by the mystery of Christ's holy Incarnation, by Christ's agony and bloody […]

Deputies, House of

The House of Deputies is the oldest of the two Houses of General Convention. It has equal numbers of clergy and lay deputies selected by the dioceses of the church. The first session of the first General Convention, held in 1789, consisted only of the House of Deputies. It adopted a constitutional provision establishing a […]


Each diocese, area mission, and the Convocation of the American Churches in Europe is entitled to not more than four ordained representatives in the House of Deputies. They must be presbyters or deacons, and canonically resident in the diocese. Each diocese, area mission, and the Convocation of the American Churches in Europe is also entitled […]


Harmony with a fixed theme in music. It is usually a higher soprano part sung to complement one or more verses of a hymn. For example, “While shepherds watched their flocks” (Hymn 94) has descants on the second and sixth verses, and “Praise to the Lord, the Almighty” (Hymn 390) has a descant on the […]


” These “desks,” sometimes called “ethnic desks,” refer to the staff at the Episcopal Church Center in New York who have networks, or commissions and committees, whom they represent at Episcopal or ecumenical meetings. These “desks” may also provide program services if funded in the general church program budget. These have included American Indian/Alaska Native […]


Once fallen into disuse as an inferior order used mainly as a stepping stone to the priesthood, the diaconate (order of deacons) has been restored in the Anglican, Roman Catholic, and several Protestant churches. In the Episcopal Church the diaconate is a full order equal to the presbyterate and the episcopate, and it plays an […]

Dialogue, Opening (Eucharist)

The practice of opening the eucharistic prayer with a dialogue between presider and people dates from the early church, as recorded in the Apostolic Tradition of Hippolytus in about the year 215. The dialogue consists of three exchanges: the salutation, “The Lord be with you,” the command, “Lift up your hearts,” and the request, “Let […]

Didache, The

This document, also known as The Teaching of the Twelve Apostles, and sometimes called The Teaching of the Lord to the Heathen by the Twelve Apostles, dates from the early second century. Its author, date, and place of writing are unknown. “Didache” is Greek for “teaching.” The document, an early church order, is essentially a […]

Dignus es

Canticle based on Rv 4:11; 5:9-10, 13, which describes hymns sung before the One seated on the heavenly throne and to the Lamb in the heavenly vision. These may be drawn from early Christian hymns. Dignus es is also known as A Song to the Lamb. It identifies Christ as the “Lamb that was slain,” […]


The territorial jurisdiction of a diocesan bishop. The term also refers to the congregations and church members of the diocese. Before the church adopted the word it had a long secular usage. It was originally used in the Roman Empire for an administrative subdivision. A diocese was a division of a prefecture of the Roman […]


A set of two tablets, made of wood or metal, and bound together by rings. The names of saints, bishops, rulers, and the faithful departed were inscribed on the inner surfaces. These names were read out by the deacon during the eucharistic liturgy.

Direct Ordination

Sometimes called per saltum (by a leap), it is ordination directly to the order for which one is chosen. In the early church those elected presbyter or bishop were commonly ordained directly to that order. Although direct ordination continued in Rome and elsewhere until the eleventh century, notably in the elevation of archdeacons as popes, […]

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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.