An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church

Glossary of Terms


The discipline of strict self control at all levels of body, feeling, thought, and imagination. Ascetic practices are not ends in themselves. Asceticism is best practiced as a way to […]

Ash Wednesday

The first of the forty days of Lent, named for the custom of placing blessed ashes on the foreheads of worshipers at Ash Wednesday services. The ashes are a sign […]

Ashes, Blessed

Ashes blessed for use on Ash Wednesday as a sign of penitence and a reminder of mortality. The OT frequently mentions the use of ashes as an expression of humiliation […]

Asheville, Missionary District of

See Western North Carolina, Diocese of.


The liturgical practice of sprinkling with holy water as a reminder of baptism. The term comes from the Latin version of Ps 51, “Thou shalt sprinkle me with hyssop.” The […]


Brush, branch, metal rod, or other instrument used to sprinkle holy water at the asperges.


A means of baptism in which the candidate is sprinkled with water. The BCP instead requires immersion (dipping most of the candidate's body in water) or affusion (pouring water on […]


A person seeking ordination as a deacon or priest, or a person who desires to be admitted to a religious order. When an aspirant has received approval from the diocese […]

Assistant Bishop

A bishop who assists the diocesan bishop by providing additional episcopal services. An assistant bishop is appointed by the diocesan bishop, with the approval of the Standing Committee of the […]

Associate Mission

The name of a house of clergy and laity living under a common rule but no formal vows, subject to episcopal oversight, for evangelization and for educational and charitable enterprises. […]

Assumption of Mary

The belief that the Mother of Jesus was taken up body and soul into heaven. Though not in scripture, it was described in apocryphal stories of the fifth century. It […]

Athanasian Creed

Statement of faith dating from the fourth or fifth centuries. It is also known by its opening Latin words as the Quicunque Vult, “Whosoever will be saved, before all things […]


(c. 296-373). Bishop and theologian. He was born in Egypt and educated at the catechetical school in Alexandria, where he was profoundly influenced by Bishop Alexander. Athanasius was ordained deacon […]

Atkinson, Thomas

(Aug. 6, 1807-Jan. 4, 1881). Bishop and advocate of the religious education of African Americans. He was born on his father's plantation, Mansfield, Dinwiddie County, Virginia. He attended Yale and […]

Atlanta, Diocese of

The General Convention of 1907 voted to divide the Diocese of Georgia, and the primary convention of the Diocese of Atlanta met at Christ Church, Macon, Dec. 4-5, 1907. The […]


The term (literally, “at + one + ment”) has been applied since the earliest English translations of the Bible to the sacrificial ceremonies in the Hebrew temple on Yom Kippur […]


The term indicated the main court of a Roman house. It was also used to describe the covered court in front of the main doors of a church or basilica. […]


Imperfect repentance for sin, possibly due to fear of punishment or displeasure at the sin itself. Attrition has been distinguished from contrition since the twelfth century. Contrition is motivated by […]

Auchmuty, Samuel

(Jan. 26, 1722-Mar. 4, 1777). Early proponent of an American episcopate. He was born in Boston and graduated from Harvard in 1742. The Bishop of London ordained him deacon on […]

Augustine of Canterbury

(d. May 26, 604 or 605). First Archbishop of Canterbury. He began his career as prior of St. Andrew's monastery in Rome. Pope Gregory the Great sent Augustine and some […]

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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.