Follow us
Sign up for our newsletter Go

Glossary

There are many words and terms that are used day to day in the Anglican Christian tradition that may be unfamiliar. This glossary is our attempt to make this language and terminology more accessible to all. Use the box to search for a term or browse by letter to find the explanation.

Abbey

An abbey is a community of monks under the rule of an abbot or a prior. Today an ancient abbey church might be used as a cathedral, as at St. Albans, or a parish church, as at Waltham Abbey, or even as a ‘royal peculiar’, as at Westminster Abbey.

Advent

The season of Advent is made up of the four weeks before Christmas when Christians prepare for the festival. Often a ring of four candles is lit on each of the four Sundays to symbolise the coming of Jesus Christ as the ‘light of the world’.

Altar

The altar represents the table of the Last Supper at which Jesus blessed bread and wine to represent his body and blood, broken and shared for the sins of the world. Christians regularly share in this meal through which they are strengthened to become the Body of Christ in the world.

Ambulatory

A place for walking and processing and gaining access to small chapels often around the east end of a church.

See Architectural Plan

Anglican

An Anglican is a member of the Church of England or a member of a church belonging to the worldwide ‘Anglican Communion’. Members of this church acknowledge the leadership of the Archbishop of Canterbury and accept the three-fold ministry of bishops, priests and deacons. They also accept that doctrine has to be founded on scripture, tradition and reason.

Archbishop of Canterbury

Today the holder of this post is regarded as the first among equals among the bishops of the worldwide Anglican Communion. Although the Archbishop’s seat is in Canterbury Cathedral, his chief residence is in Lambeth Palace in London.

Ascension

The belief that after the Resurrection, Jesus ascended into heaven. The doctrine is an attempt to express the elevation of Jesus into the divine presence at the ‘right hand of God’.

Baptism

The sacrament of Baptism is the initiation rite into the Christian faith which symbolises the candidates ‘dying and rising with Christ’. Water is used either for pouring or immersing the candidate. This sacrament is regarded as ‘life giving’ in that the baptised are said to become ‘inheritors of eternal life’. The baptised are also believed to be recipients of the Holy Spirit.

Bells

Bells are used to call people to worship. Between six and eight bells are rung by teams of ringers before the main services. In Anglican churches there is an involved system of ‘change ringing’ which dates back four hundred years and is still evolving.

Benedict (Saint)

The Rule of St. Benedict was the inspiration for the Benedictine Order of monks who were first responsible for the life and work of many English cathedrals. St. Benedict was seen as the founder of western monasticism and the Order which bears his name quickly spread all over Europe. Both Pope Gregory the Great and St. Augustine, whom he sent to be the first Archbishop of Canterbury, were Benedictines. The Order was largely responsible for teaching the faith and spreading the gospel in the early Middle Ages.

1 2 3 4 5  ...