Epis-co-pal-ese 

Episcopalians have a special name for everything....from the cloth hangings which decorate the altar and lectern (paraments), to the small square linen-covered cardboard which covers the chalice at the altar (pall), from the lobby just inside the church building (narthex), to the room in which the altar equipment and linens are kept (sacristy).  To help familiarize you with some of these names, we've included a dictionary of sorts of some of the common words you'll hear at St. Christopher's. 

[Most of this information has been edited from "A New Dictionary for Epis-co-pal-lians" by The Rev. John N. Wall, Jr. (Harper & Row, 1985); The Rev. John Burwell's church website: http://www.holycross.net/anonline.htm]; and Gerald L. Smith's "Episcopal Things":  http://smith2.sewanee.edu/gsmith/Texts/Sewanee/DictEpiscopalThings.html]

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815
1928 Prayer Book (also 28 Prayer Book)
Absolution
Acolyte
Advent
Alb
All Saints' Day
Altar Guild
Altar
Anglican
Anointing
Anthem
Apocrypha
Ash Wednesday
Baptism
Bible, The
Blessing
Book Of Common Prayer, The
Canon
Canon Law
Cassock
Catechism
catholic (small 'c')
Cathedral
Celebrant
Chaplain
Chasuble
Christmas
Church Annual
Communicants
Compline (Comp-len)
Confirmation
Convention, General
Cotta
Crucifer
Cursillo (Cur-see-oh)
Deacon
Diocese
Easter
Elements
Epiphany
Epistle, The
Epistle Side
Eucharist
Evensong
Font
Genuflection
Gospel, The
Gospel Side
High Church
Holy Orders
Holy Week
Hymn
Incense
Laity
Lay Eucharistic Minister
Lay person
Lay Reader
Lectern
Lectionary
LEM (Lay Eucharistic Minister)
Lent
Lesson
Liturgy
Low Church
Mission
Maundy Thursday
Morning Prayer
Narthex
Nave
Palm Sunday
Paraments
Parish Hall
Peace, The
Pentecost
Piscina
Prayer Book
Primate
Procession
Propers
Pulpit
Purificator
Reserved Sacrament
Rector
Rite One
Rite Two
Rogation Sunday
Sacrament
Sanctuary
Sacristy
Seasons
Sexton
Shrove Tuesday
"Smells & Bells"
Stole
Twelve Days of Christmas
Torch [Torch Bearer]
Trinity, The
Verger
Vestments
Vestry
"Via Media"
Vicar
Wafer
Wine

815
a short reference to the main office complex of the Episcopal Church in New York: Episcopal Church Center, 815 Second Avenue, New York, NY 10017, (212) 867-8400.
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1928 Prayer Book (also 28 Prayer Book)
a version of the Episcopal book of worship in use from 1928 to 1979; some services from this prayer book have been retained in the current prayer book as "Rite I" services.
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Absolution
act whereby the priest or bishop formally pronouces forgiveness of sins to those who have confessed them.
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Acolyte
acolytes assist the priest, lights and carries candles, and performs other ceremonial functions.
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Advent
the first season of the church's calendar, beginning on the fourth Sunday before Christmas and running until the first Eucharist of Christmas. Advent is the season of preparation for the incarnation of Christ.
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Alb
the white robe worn by the ministers of the service; generally worn over daily clothes but under other vestments, scarves, etc.
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All Saints' Day
November 1; a feast day in the church in commemoration of all the known and unknown saints.
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Altar Guild
lay group in a church charged with the maintenance and preparation of the altar and its furnishings in a church; altar guilds may also supervise church decorations and flowers.
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Altar
a table on which are placed the vessels for holding the bread, wine, and water used in the Eucharist.
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Anglican
simply means English; a term indicating the English origins of the Episcopal Church.
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Anointing
act of applying consecrated oil. Used in Baptism, Confirmation, Ordination, and Ministration to the Sick (healing).
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Anthem
any vocal music or hymn sung by a choir but not by the congregation
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Apocrypha
collection of writings that were part of the Greek Bible of the Jewish community at the beginning of the Christian era. These books were not included in the canon of Scripture established by rabbis in Jerusalem in A.D. 70. Anglicans use the apocryphal books in liturgical readings and hold them as "examples of life and instruction of manner" but not for doctrinal matters.
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Ash Wednesday
the day which marks the beginning of the season of Lent, a period of spiritual discipline, fasting and moderation in preparation for Holy Week and Easter; one of the most important days of the church year. In the Ash Wednesday service, ashes are lightly smeared onto the forehead of a person by the priest or bishop.
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Baptism
"Holy Baptism is the sacrament by which God adopts us as his children and makes us members of Christ's Body, the Church, and inheritors of the kingdom of God." (Book of Common Prayer, page 858)
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Bible, The
primary source of inspiration and the single most important book for Episcopalians. Three or more readings from the bible are read in a typical worship service. Over 80% of the Book of Common Prayer comes from the bible.
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Blessing
usually coming at the end of a service or gathering when a Bishop or Priest gives God's blessing to all gathered.
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Book Of Common Prayer, The
a collection of prayers, readings, Psalms, devotions, and services used by the Episcopal Church; the worship book used by Episcopalians. Nearly all services in any Episcopal Church will be printed in this book. Also known as The Prayer Book.
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Canon
a term used for the accepted, or "canonical" books of Scripture. There are 39 books of the Old Testament, 27 books of New Testament and 14 books of the Apocrypha. Also: slang for referring to Canon Law. Also: the title of a priest who serves on the staff of a cathedral (except the head staff priest of the cathedral, who is called the dean.
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Canon Law
the official rules and regulations governing the Episcopal Church and all of the Provinces and Dioceses and Parishes therein. The laws of the Episcopal Church.
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Cassock
a black robe worn by priests or deacons, and are usually worn with a white over-garment called a surplice.
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Catechism
outline of the faith, usually in the form of questions and answers. The Epicopal catechism is found on pages 843-862 of The Prayer Book.
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catholic (small 'c')
literally, "universal" or "found everywhere." We affirm each week in the Nicene Creed that we are a "holy, catholic, and apostolic church."
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Cathedral
an Episcopal Church which is the official church of a bishop of a diocese; sometimes such churches are indicated by the word Cathedral in their name, but not always. Cathedrals are usually in the charge of a priest who is referred to as the Dean of the Cathedral. Not all large churches are cathedrals; not all cathedrals are large.
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Celebrant
the main priest in a Eucharist; the priest who performs the consecration of the bread and wine; the celebrant may be assisted by other priests, deacons, chalice bearers, acolytes, etc.
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Chaplain
the clergy person in charge of a chapel or one who ministers to a small group of people.
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Chasuble
a type of vestment worn by the celebrant during the Eucharist. It is usually oval in shape with a hole for the head to pass through. Different color chasubles are used during the different church seasons: Advent is purple or blue; Christmas is white; Epiphany is green; Lent is purple; Easter is white; and the season after Pentecost is green. Weddings and funerals are white (for celebration) while Pentecost Sunday and ordinations are red, the signify the presence of the Holy Spirit. [Black is sometimes used on Good Friday.]
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Christmas
December 25; the Feast of the Nativity of Christ. One of the six seasons of the church year.
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Church Annual
The Episcopal Church Annual: the yearbook of the Episcopal Church containing names and addresses of all Episcopal organizations, dioceses, churches, a list of all clergy, etc. Sometimes also called the "Red Book."
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Communicants
the members of a local church; those who do or who are eligible to receive communion; loosely identified with the roll of the local church.
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Compline (Comp-len)
an evening service used to end the day; may be found in The Book of Common Prayer on page 127.
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Confirmation
from two Latin words - firmare, which means "to strengthen," and com, which adds force to the word. Literally to confirm is to "strengthen greatly." At Confirmation a person makes a mature, public confession that he or she accepts Jesus Christ as his or her personal Lord and Savior, thus owning up to the vows his or her godparents made for him or her at his or her baptism. The bishop then lays his or her hands on the confirmand, and prays for the Holy Spirit to "strengthen greatly" the person in the rest of his or her life. Confirmation is considered to be one of the five sacramental acts, or minor sacraments of the Church.
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Convention, General
a gathering every three years of the national Episcopal Church; at General Convention each diocese is represented by appointed or elected deputies. At General Convention the basic regulations and decisions that govern the church are made. For voting, the General Convention consists of the House of Bishops and the House of Deputies.
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Cotta
a short robe top, often white, often worn by choir members, acolytes and ministers of communion.
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Crucifer
a person in a religious procession who bears the cross and who leads the procession into the church.
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Cursillo (Cur-see-oh)
a contemporary, popular movement of Christian renewal in the Episcopal Church involving a 4-day retreat followed up by spiritual disciplines and gatherings.
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Deacon
the initial, or "first" level of ordination in the Episcopal Church. By tradition the Gospel is read by the deacon if a deacon is present during the service. A Permanent Deacon is usually involved in Servant Ministry such as chaplaincy and/or outreach ministries.
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Diocese
a unit of church organization; the spiritual domain under a bishop. A diocese may contain many parishes and churches.
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Easter
festival that commemorates the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, the third day after he was crucified, representing the primary tenent of the Christian faith. Easter is a movable feast, which means it does not always fall on the same day each year. Easter is always the first Sunday after the full moon following the vernal equinox (first day of Spring). By this calculation, Easter could occur anytime from March 22, to April 25. The length of Epiphany and the Season after Pentecost, as well as the dates of Ash Wednesday, Holy Week, Ascension Day, Pentecost, and Trinity Sunday are all determined by the date of Easter. Easter is also a Church season, spanning the 40 days (six Sundays) after Easter, to Ascension Day.
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Elements
the bread and the wine that is used during the Holy Eucharist. Small circular bread wafers are also called "the host", and the large circular bread wafer is known as "the priest's host."
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Epiphany
January 6; a feast celebrating the visit of the wise men to the infant Jesus; the end of the Christmas season.
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Epistle, The
a reading from the New Testament other than from the Gospels.
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Epistle Side
the right side of a church when facing the altar; from which the epistles are read. See Gospel Side.
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Eucharist
a "good gift" or thanksgiving; the current usage in the Episcopal Church to refer to communion or the Lord's Supper.
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Evensong
an evening worship service; evening prayer; and evening prayer service featuring a choir.
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Font
a basin of water used in baptism.
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Genuflection
an act of reverence by kneeling until one knee touches the floor and then rising again. People usually genuflect when entering or leaving their pews, though it is appropriate at other times as well.
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Gospel, The
any reading from Matthew, Mark, Luke, or John in the New Testament; also a general reference to the essential message of the Christian faith.
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Gospel Side
the north side [the left side facing the altar]. See Epistle Side.
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High Church
a designation of a church emphasizing theological or liturgical formality; a church with several vested assistants and many fine utensils used in the service; a church that sings or chants its service rather than reading or speaking it; a church that celebrates the Eucharist every Sunday (though most Episcopal Churches do this now). Such churches sometimes appear to be more "catholic."
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Holy Orders
a way of referring to ordination among Roman Catholics, Episcopalians, and others: an ordained person is spoken of as "being in holy orders"--meaning that the person has made priestly vows and has been admitted by a bishop into one of the several levels of ordination.
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Holy Week
the period from Palm Sunday to Easter Sunday; most important period of the church year with many special services.
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Hymn
sacred words set to music; church vocal music involving the congregation and distinguished from the Psalm or anthem.
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Incense
the "smell" element in Smells & Bells; a fragrant (and now usually hypoallergenic) powder burned in a small dish or pot; used during the service or in the processions in recollection of one of the three gifts of the wise men to the Christ Child.
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Laity
the non-ordained members of a church; all lay persons together; "the people" as distinguished from "the clergy."
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Lay Eucharistic Minister
specially trained members of the laity who take the elements from the Sunday Service to the sick and shut-in of the parish.
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Lay person
any non-ordained person; in the Episcopal church today, lay person is often used instead of the older protestant usage "layman".
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Lay Reader
any non-ordained person who participates in reading part of a church service. In some churches Lay Readers are officially recognized as a special group assisting in church services.
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Lectern
a raised platform with railing used for reading prayers or scripture; usually located at the front of the nave opposite the pulpit.
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Lectionary
the complex series of Biblical readings used in the Episcopal Church throughout the year.
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LEM (Lay Eucharistic Minister)
an individual who has undergone special training and is licensed by the bishop to take Communion to a sick or shut-in member of the parish or mission.
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Lent
the period of fasting, sobriety, and meditation following Ash Wednesday; in the past Lent was widely associated with denial or "giving something up for Lent.": "I gave up smoking for Lent." Or, "I gave up desserts for Lent." The season recalls the period of Christ's fasting and meditation in the wilderness, so traditionally is for a period of forty days--from Ash Wednesday to Palm Sunday. The term is derived from an old word for 'lengthen' which referred to the lengthening days of early spring.
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Lesson
also the Epistle; any reading from the Bible except the Gospels or Psalms; usually read on the opposite side of the church from where the Gospel is read; in older practice the Lesson was read from the "Epistle Side"--the right side facing the altar, while the Gospel was read from the "Gospel Side"--the left side facing the altar. Current practice in many Episcopal churches does not conform to this older pattern.
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Liturgy
literally the word means the work of the people; generally used to refer to the full text of the words of a worship service; any ritual order for holding a church service.
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Low Church
a church that is less formal; a church that does not chant or sing its service; a church that alternates Morning Prayer with Eucharist; such churches sometimes appear to be more "protestant".
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Mission
a local Episcopal congregation that has not yet attained the status of a church with a full-time priest; also a church that has lost its church status and reverted to mission status. Usually a mission does not have a full-time minister and does not have the full complement of daily or weekly services.
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Maundy Thursday
the Thursday of Holy Week; the name is from Latin "mandatum" referring to Christ's commandment concerning foot-washing; also the day on which the first Lord's Supper was celebrated.
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Morning Prayer
a Daily Office found in The Book of Common Prayer. Intended for personal devotion in the morning. The other Daily Offices are Noonday Prayer, Evening Prayer, and Compline.
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Narthex
an enclosed space at the entry end of the nave of a church; the entry porch or vestibule of a church: "The ushers will line up in the Narthex."
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Nave
the main part of a church; the place where the congregation sits. Derived from an old word for ship; in older churches the beams of the roof resembled the beams and timbers in the sides of a ship.
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Palm Sunday
the Sunday before Easter. In an Episcopal Church, members of the congregation carry real palms during the service; in some churches, the tradition is that palms from one year are saved, dried and later burned to make the ashes used at the next year's Ash Wednesday service.
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Paraments
cloth hangings used to decorate the altar, pulpit, lectern, or other worship space.
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Parish Hall
a gathering place for a local congregation separate from the church building.
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Peace, The
also known as Passing the Peace; a ritual in the Episcopal Church in which members of the congregation, including the clergy, greet one another. The priest says, "The Peace of the Lord be always with you." The congregation responds, "And also with you." Immediately after these words people shake hands or speak or sometimes embrace in the church.
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Pentecost
the Festival Sunday that comes fifty days after Easter in which we commemorate the coming of the Holy Spirit on the twelve Disciples after Christ's Resurrection (Acts 2). Pentecost is traditionally seen as the birthday of the church, and is also the beginning of the longest season in the church - the season after Pentecost. The season after Pentecost runs from the day of Pentecost to the first Sunday in Advent.
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Piscina
the stone or porcelain basin from which a drain pipe carries to the ground the water used in the ablutions. It is also the most convenient way for many Altar Guilds to dispose of the remaining consecrated wine after a service. The piscina is never, ever to be hooked up to the building's plumbing.
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Prayer Book
a short way of referring to the Book of Common Prayer, the worship book of the Episcopal Church containing services, psalms, prayers, etc.
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Primate
the chief Bishop in an Anglican Province
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Procession
the line of choir, clergy, acolytes, crucifer, torchbearers and others walking into a church to begin a service.
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Propers
parts of the liturgy/Daily Office (prayers and bible reading) that vary according to the season or occasion.
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Pulpit
a raised platform with railing used for the sermon or homily; generally located to one side of the front of the nave, not in the center as in most protestant churches.
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Purificator
a small piece of white linen used at Communion to cleanse the chalice, by wiping the rim of the chalice with the purificator.
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Reserved Sacrament
Consecrated bread and wine kept in the church building after a Communion service; kept primarily for distribution to the sick of the Church.
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Rector
the head priest of a local church or parish.
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Rite One
a portion of the Book of Common Prayer which contains worship services using the older language of the 1928 edition of the prayer book.
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Rite Two
a portion of the Book of Common Prayer containing worship services which use more modern language.
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Rogation Sunday
This is the day which by ancient custom the fields were blessed for the harvest. It is when we honor God who created the earth and its fruits and give thanks for them. It is also a day to consider our responsibility as stewards of the earth and recognize that all of creation is precious to our Lord. Rogation Sunday is the Sunday before Ascension Day.
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Sacrament
outward and visible signs of inward and spiritual grace, given by Christ as sure and certain means by which we receive that grace. (BCP 857) The two given by Christ to the Church are Baptism and Eucharist (Communion). The five lesser sacraments are confirmation, ordination, marriage, reconciliation of a penitent, and laying on of hands and anointing with oil for healing.
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Sanctuary
the portion of a church at the head of the chancel around the altar; the space immediately around the altar. Sometimes used to refer to the whole interior of the church, but this is not the usual Episcopal usage.
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Sacristy
the room near the altar where the communion vessels and vestments are kept.
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Seasons
a way of marking time in the Church. There are six seasons: Advent, Christmas, Epiphany, Lent, Easter, and the season after Pentecost. The church new year begins with the season of Advent, which marks the advent, or coming, of our Lord. Advent begins four Sundays before Christmas day. Christmas is a twelve-day season that begins Christmas day and continues to January 6th. Epiphany is both a day (Jan.6) and a season, and represents the manifestation (epiphany) of the gospel into the world. Lent begins 46 days before Easter with Ash Wednesday, and is a time of preparation for Holy Week and Easter. Easter is a six week (50 day) season which ends on Pentecost Sunday. The season after Pentecost runs from Pentecost to Advent.
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Sexton
an older English title for the person in charge of the church building [or a special portion of it] and grounds; in America the Sexton is also commonly head of maintenance and custodial services.
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Shrove Tuesday
the final day before the season of Lent begins on Ash Wednesday. At St. Christopher's we celebrate with an Oyster Roast; other Episcopal churches hold pancake suppers.
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"Smells & Bells"
a way of describing a "high" church; a church that frequently uses incense, bells, candles, chimes, vestments all together in worship services.
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Stole
a long, narrow strip of cloth worn around the neck and allowed to hang down the front of the clerical vestments of the bishop and priest; worn right to left by a deacon; some stoles are decorated with diocesan or school insignia near the lower ends; an all black "stole", usually with insignia is known as a tippet.
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Twelve Days of Christmas
the time from December 25th to January 6th, that is from Christmas day to Epiphany. The time from the first Sunday in Advent until Christmas Eve is, properly, Advent; the time from December 25th to January 6th is the Christmas season or the "Twelve Days of Christmas."
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Torch [Torch Bearer]
a person who carries a candle in a religious procession; often the Crucifer is followed by two "Torches"--two persons each carrying a candle mounted on a short staff.
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Trinity, The
a fundamental symbol of the Christian faith and a very important doctrine in catholic Christianity; the Trinity refers to the oneness and essential unity of God as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
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Verger
an older usage for someone who carries a mace or ceremonial staff in procession; vergers sometimes also had responsibility for the condition of the interior of a church.
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Vestments
clothing worn by people who lead the services of a church; clothing worn by clergy. (The clothing worn by monks and nuns is usually called a "habit"; the clothing worn by choir members is usually called a "robe"; the clothing worn by professors is usually called a "gown.") Colors used in some vestments are changed during the year to indicate the seasons of the church year. Vestments are usually styled by cut and color to indicate whether a person is a deacon, presbyter, or bishop. Bishops' vestments for instance include a purple shirt.
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Vestry
governing board of a local Episcopal church consisting of lay members, much like the board of deacons in a Baptist church; the group that usually makes basic decisions about church budget, building plans, etc. Usually headed by a Senior Warden assisted by a Junior Warden who often follows the Senior Warden in office.
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"Via Media"
a Latin phrase which means "by the way of the middle." The Episcopal Church seeks the middle way between catholicism and protestantism, while holding onto traditions, beliefs, and practices from both.
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Vicar
an older English term referring to a priest in charge of a vicarage--a small parish; usually such priests were substituting for the "official" or assigned priest; sometimes but not often used by American Episcopal clergy.
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Wafer
the bread part of the Lord's Supper; often an unleavened, thin cracker; sometimes the wafer is imprinted with a cross; some wafers are large, being several inches in diameter.
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Wine
the beverage portion of communion symbolizing the blood of Christ; NOT grape juice used in some protestant churches.
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St. Christopher's Episcopal Church reveals the light of Christ as a beacon of love in the world.

  St. Christopher's Episcopal Church

400 Dupre Drive (next to Spartanburg High School)
Spartanburg, SC 29307
864-585-2858
FAX 864-585-0799

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