An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church


A form for religious ceremony. It includes both what is said and what is done in the religious observance. Rite expresses the church's relationship with God through words, actions, and symbols. It orders the church's common worship. Rite enables the community to share its faith and experience God's presence in a particular liturgical and pastoral context. Divine transcendence is to be known through participation in the specific and finite realities of rite.

Rites are prescribed for various sacraments, offices, and occasions in liturgical churches such as the Episcopal Church. The rites of the Episcopal Church are found in the BCP. Authorized services and texts for optional use are found in the BOS. Other rites may be approved for trial use prior to full approval for use in the worship of the church. The term may also designate a particular collection of liturgies. In the 1979 BCP, Rite 1 liturgies are traditional language services and Rite 2 liturgies are contemporary language services.

“Rite” may also identify a church or denomination that uses a particular rite or rites, such as “Byzantine Rite.” The term “rite” may also indicate the form for any solemn ceremony or practice.

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.