Anglican Terminology

Newcomers to an Anglican Church may hear terms they are unfamiliar with; therefore the list below is a glossary of “Anglican Terminology.”

BISHOP

A Bishop is an ordained or consecrated member of the Christian clergy who is generally entrusted with a position of authority and oversight.

BOOK OF COMMON PRAYER

The collection of services that worshippers in most Anglican churches used for centuries. While it has since undergone many revisions and Anglican churches in different countries have developed other service books, the Prayer Book is still acknowledged as one of the ties that bind the Anglican Communion together.

DAILY OFFICE READINGS

Daily Office Reading consists of Morning Prayer and Evening Prayer.  The Book of Common Prayer arranges the Daily Office into two year cycles and is meant to assist Christians in engaging in worship on a daily basis.

DEACON

Being a deacon is the initial level of being ordained in the Anglican Church and often have special clerical duties.

DIOCESE

The Diocese is the fundamental unit of structure of the Anglican church. Every diocese is the seat of a Bishop. In general a diocese contains many parishes and churches, and normally dioceses are combined into larger administrative units called Provinces and National Churches.

EUCHARIST

Anglicans often use the word Eucharist instead of the words Mass or Communion. The prayer book says “The Holy Eucharist is the sacrament commanded by Christ for the continual remembrance of his life, death, and resurrection, until his coming again…. The Holy Eucharist is also called the Lord’s Supper, and Holy Communion; it is also known as the Divine Liturgy, the Mass, and the Great Offering.”

LECTIONARY

A lectionary is a table of psalms and readings from Holy Scripture which focuses on four readings from Scripture. Each Sunday there is a Scripture reading the Old Testament, a psalm, an epistle lesson and a gospel lesson. The Book of Common Prayer is arranged into a three year lectionary cycle.

NARTHEX

The Narthex is the first area you will see when entering the church.

NAVE

As you proceed forward through the Narthex you will enter the Nave.  The Nave is the area where parishioners sit and ends at the communion rail.

PARISH

A parish is the smallest unit of administration within the Anglican church. Most parishes have just one church, called the parish church. Some parishes have more than one church; this instance is usually found in areas with sparse or declining population, so that only the clergy need travel far. Parishes combine into dioceses.

PRIEST

“Priest” is a special term for the minister of a Roman Catholic, Anglican, or Orthodox church. Historically, the term meant someone who performed a sacrifice; later the term referred to those who said Mass. A person becomes a priest by being ordained by a bishop.

VESTRY

The word vestry has two meanings that are more or less unrelated, though they have a common origin. A vestry is a room in which people put on vestments, or robes. A changing room. Since people typically do not take off their street clothes to put on vestments, a vestry room is not a private place but often rather more of an alcove.

A vestry can also be like a board of directors for a parish. In many provinces of the Anglican Communion, including those in North America, the business affairs of a parish are managed by a vestry that consists of members elected from the congregation.

WARDEN

A church warden is an appointed administrative position in a parish church. Usually one finds two wardens, called Junior Warden and Senior Warden, or perhaps People’s Warden and Rector’s Warden. They have specific duties pertaining to the earthly operation of the parish.