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Anglican Young People's Dictionary

Anglican Young People's Dictionary

by June English, Dorothy Thompson Perez (Illustrator)

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What does the vestry do? Is there a difference between a rector and a vicar? What exactly is an undercroft, anyway? Young people-and their families-can turn to this user-friendly, clearly written resource to learn the meanings of many of the unique words that are part of the Anglican tradition.

The Anglican Young People's Dictionary is a concise, engaging,


What does the vestry do? Is there a difference between a rector and a vicar? What exactly is an undercroft, anyway? Young people-and their families-can turn to this user-friendly, clearly written resource to learn the meanings of many of the unique words that are part of the Anglican tradition.

The Anglican Young People's Dictionary is a concise, engaging, easy-to-read dictionary of some 150 often-used but frequently misunderstood words used by Anglicans. Written in an approachable, kid-friendly style, it's an excellent resource for teens approaching Confirmation, as well as students in parish Christian formation programs. It's also a useful tool for parents and parish educators, and a handy reference for church newcomers.

Product Details

Church Publishing, Incorporated
Publication date:
Edition description:
Large Print
Product dimensions:
0.19(w) x 5.50(h) x 8.50(d)
Age Range:
9 - 12 Years

Read an Excerpt

Anglican Young People's Dictionary

By June A. English

Church Publishing, Inc.

Copyright © 2004 June English
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-0-8192-1985-5



The word acolyte comes from a Greek word meaning "one who serves." Acolytes are laypeople, often teenagers, who serve the church by assisting the priest or deacon during services. Acolytes may carry a banner or incense at the beginning of the worship service. They also assist by lighting and putting out candles, and may receive the offering of the congregation after it is collected. Acolytes may also help the priest prepare the altar, or Lord's Table, for communion. Sometimes acolytes assist the priest or deacon by holding the gospel book during the reading of the text. No matter what acolytes do in any particular worship service, they are there to serve and to show the congregation an example of how to serve others well.


The Christian year begins with the season of Advent, a word that comes from the Latin adventus, or "coming." Starting with the Sunday that falls four weeks before Christmas, the Church prepares for the birth of Jesus. This is also a time of preparation for the Second Advent, or Second Coming of Christ. That makes this season a time of expectation and waiting, but also of repentance and purification. Gospels and other readings focus on the longing for Jesus, the Messiah, to come into the world. Some Episcopal churches follow the ancient custom of using purple vestments and altar hangings during the Advent season. Purple, the medieval sign of royalty, reminds us that Christ will establish the Kingdom of God on earth. Other churches use deep blue, a symbol of Mary, the mother of Jesus.

Advent wreath

The Advent wreath, a circle of evergreens with four candles, is one way to celebrate Advent, both at church and in Christian homes. During the first week of Advent, one candle is lit. During the second week, two candles are lit, and so on until the final week, when all four candles burn brightly. Advent wreaths often have three purple candles and one rose or pink one. The rose candle, lit on the third Sunday of Advent, also known as "Rose" or "Gaudete" Sunday, is a reminder that this is a time of joyful expectation. In the middle of the wreath, many people also include a single white candle as a sign of Christ. This Christ candle is lit on Christmas Eve.

Advent calendar

This is a calendar used to mark the days leading up to Christmas. Commercial Advent calendars usually have twenty-four days—one for each December day before Christmas. Each day is marked by a small flap or door. Each door opens to reveal a picture or message relating to the events of the season. Advent calendars are one good way to remember the significance of the Christmas season.


The alb is a full-length, loose-fitting garment usually worn by the person celebrating the Mass or Eucharist, as well as by the ministers who are assisting the service. It is most often white or off-white. The alb, whose name comes from a Latin word meaning "white," is often gathered at the waist by a rope or cincture.

All Saints' Day

This feast day, kept in the Anglican Church as well as other churches, celebrates all the Christian saints, both known and unknown. A saint is someone whose life on earth showed the love and compassion of God in a remarkable way. Christians believe that such people continue to be in communion with God after death. On November 1, all the saints are remembered and honored.

All Souls' Day

Since about the fifth century, the Roman Catholic Church has marked the feast of All Souls on November 2 as a day to pray for faithful Christians who have died. Although this feast was discontinued in the Anglican Church with the Protestant Reformation, it was revived in the English 1928 Book of Common Prayer as a way to help Anglicans mourn the deaths of millions of soldiers in World War I. Today the feast is known as the Commemoration of All Faithful Departed.


The term altar comes from words meaning "place of burning." Long ago, altars were used for ritual sacrifice—religious ceremonies in which animals or plants were burned. Today in Anglican churches the altar is the table where we celebrate the Eucharist. Using the word altar is a reminder that Jesus' willingness to die was a sacrifice of his life. Since the late 1960s, the altar stands away from the wall as a kind of island. The priest celebrates the Eucharist facing the people.

When it is not being used, the altar is usually covered by a special white linen cloth called an altar cloth. During the celebration of the Eucharist, the altar holds the chalice for the wine, the paten for the host, the eucharistic candles, and the altar book, which contains the words spoken by the celebrant during the Eucharist.

Altar Guild

The altar guild is a group of parishioners who prepare the altar for worship. They arrange the items that belong on the altar, including the candles and prayer book as well as preparing bread for the paten and filling the chalice with wine. They make sure that all the altar linens are correctly colored for the season of the church year being observed—purple or blue for Advent, for example, or white for Easter. The altar guild may also take responsibility for church flowers and decorations, particularly for special seasons. Other altar guild duties may include cleaning, sewing, and mending the linens.


The Angelus is a prayer that honors the Incarnation, the mystical truth that Jesus, though God, became a human being. It is traditionally recited in the morning, at noon, and in the evening and is often accompanied by the ringing of church bells. The prayer is based on the angel Gabriel's announcement to Mary that she would become the mother of Jesus, son of the Creator. Angelus is the Latin word for angel. Some people recite the Angelus as an act of devotion to Mary.


An Anglican is a person who is a member of an Anglican church. Anglican churches are members of the Anglican Communion, a worldwide group of churches that are connected through history and belief with the Church of England. Anglicanism is a religion that combines elements of both the Protestant and the Roman Catholic traditions. From the Protestant tradition, Anglicans hold the importance of reading the Bible and forming an individual conscience. From the Roman Catholic tradition, Anglicans maintain the importance of liturgy, tradition, and church organization (or hierarchy). Anglicanism is often thought of as a bridge—or a middle way—between these two traditions.

Anglican Communion

The Anglican Communion, with seventy million members in thirty-eight provinces, is a collection of Anglican churches around the world. The Anglican Communion headquarters is in London and the spiritual head of the Communion is the Archbishop of Canterbury.


The word annunciation comes from the Latin meaning "to announce." It refers to the angel Gabriel's announcement to the Blessed Virgin Mary that she would be the mother of the long-awaited Messiah. With Mary's answer, "Behold the handmaiden of the Lord; be it done unto me according to thy word," Jesus was conceived. Christians commemorate the Annunciation by praying the Magnificat, and celebrating the feast of the Annunciation on March 25.


Anointing is the rite of applying holy oil to a person. This act is a sign of God's presence and healing grace. Traditionally, the oils used in anointing come from olives. In the countries of the Mediterranean where Christianity was formed, people depended on oil to prepare food, to give light, and to heal the sick. Today, within the Anglican Church, people are anointed when they are ill; they may also be anointed when they receive the sacraments: baptism, confirmation, and Holy Orders, or ordination. During these ceremonies, the celebrant may anoint people with holy oil known as chrism, a mixture of olive oil and balsam.


Several ancient holy books are used by the Anglican Church, but are not officially considered part of the Bible. Instead they are known as the Apocrypha, from a Greek word meaning "hidden" or "secret." These books were included in the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible used by Jews living outside of Israel during the formative years of Christianity. This Bible was used by early Christians as well.

Because the books are not found in the original Hebrew scriptures, however, Protestant churches during the Reformation of the sixteenth century did not include them in the canon, or official list, of the books of the Bible. They could not be used to determine what Christians should believe, but might offer examples of how to live. Today Anglicans include these writings in a separate section, between the Old and New Testaments, called the Apocrypha. The Apocrypha includes these books: Tobit, Judith, Additions to Esther, Wisdom of Solomon, Sirach or Ecclesiasticus, Baruch, The Letter of Jeremiah, The Prayer of Azariah and the Song of the Three Jews, Susanna, Bel and the Dragon, 1 through 4 Maccabees, Prayer of Manasseh, Psalm 151, and 1 and 2 Esdras.


The apostles were the twelve close followers of Jesus. After spending a night in prayer, he personally selected these men, some of whom were fishermen, to carry out his ministry on earth. They accompanied Jesus almost everywhere he traveled. After Jesus' death and resurrection, the apostles formed the center of the Christian church and, with many other men and women, spread the gospel throughout the Mediterranean world. The word apostle comes from a Greek word meaning "messenger." Jesus gave the apostles power to baptize, heal, and forgive sins in his name, and he sent them out to be messengers of his good news.

Some of the apostles had been disciples of John the Baptist and met Jesus at the Jordan River, where John baptized believers. These men were present when Jesus performed his first public miracle at the wedding feast at Cana.

Apostles' Creed

The Apostles' Creed is a summary of the beliefs of the Christian religion. For many years, people believed that it had been written by the apostles soon after they received the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. Now scholars believe that it was probably written around the fourth century. The word creed comes from the first word of the statement in Latin, credo, which means "I believe." Anglicans recite the creed (either the Apostles' or the Nicene) at every Eucharist.

Apostolic Succession

In the earliest days of the Church, the apostles chose people to help spread the gospel and care for the Church. Through the laying on of hands, the apostles made certain Christians bishops. In turn, the first bishops laid hands on the next generation of bishops, and so on through the centuries, creating an unbroken line of apostolic succession. Today, Anglican bishops can trace their roots back to second-century bishops who were probably successors of the original apostles. Men and women who become bishops in the Anglican Church today receive the laying on of hands from other bishops.


In the Anglican Communion, an archbishop is a bishop whose responsibilities go beyond the geographic boundaries of one diocese. There are two archbishops in England, the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Archbishop of York. In the Episcopal Church in the United States, however, there are no archbishops. Instead, the chief bishop is known as the Presiding Bishop. The Presiding Bishop does not have the duties of a regular bishop, but assumes, instead, the role of an administrator within the church. In the Anglican Church of Canada, the Primate, or head of the church, is an archbishop. There are also four other archbishops who are the leaders of each of the four Canadian church provinces, or large areas of the country.

Archbishop of Canterbury

The Archbishop of Canterbury is head of the Church of England. Traditionally, the Archbishop of Canterbury is also considered the spiritual leader of the entire body of churches within the Anglican Communion. In the year 579, St. Augustine became the first Archbishop of Canterbury.

Archdeacon (look under Deacon)

Articles of Religion

The Thirty-nine Articles are brief statements that summarize the beliefs and practices of the Anglican Church in the sixteenth century. Formed during the Reformation in England, the Articles are included in the Book of Common Prayer.

Ash Wednesday

Marking the beginning of Lent, Ash Wednesday is the fortieth weekday before Easter. This day begins a period of fasting and prayer in preparation for Easter. In some churches ashes from burnt palms (from the previous year's Palm Sunday celebration) are traced on the foreheads of Christians. This ancient ritual of penitence has its roots in the Hebrew Bible, where wearing sackcloth and ashes were signs of repentance. Today, however, the imposition of ashes is often omitted, though the Church still calls its members to use the weeks of Lent to purify their spirits and deepen their relationship with God.


Baptism is the sacrament of Christian identity, making recipients full members of the Church. In the early Church, people were usually baptized as adults after a long period of preparation. Today, Anglicans are usually baptized as infants, with the parents and godparents speaking on behalf of the child, vowing to share their Christian faith by word and example. The priest or deacon sprinkles water on the child's head and anoints the child's forehead with holy oil.

Spiritually, baptism is the transition from the death of sin to a new life in Christ. Before the birth of Christ, Jews practiced immersion (dunking) in water as a ritual of purification, or spiritual cleansing. The word baptism comes from a Greek word meaning "to dip." Jesus himself consented to be baptized by his cousin John in the river Jordan. On this day, John the Baptist, marking a change in what baptism would come to mean, tells the crowd: I indeed have baptized you with water; but He [Christ] shall baptize you with the Holy Spirit.


The Holy Bible is a collection of sixty-six books that contain the Scriptures, or holy writings, of the Jewish and the Christian religions. Anglicans believe that the holy Scriptures contain "all things necessary to salvation." The Bible is separated into two testaments, or covenants, that teach us about God's relationship with people. The Old Testament contains the Hebrew Scriptures, written before the birth of Christ, which tell of the relationship between God and the Jews through histories, law, and prophetic writings. The New Testament contains scriptures written after the life of Christ, describing his ministry and the beginnings of his Church. (Judaism, in general, does not recognize the New Testament as being part of the true Bible.)

Both Jews and Christians believe that the Bible is inspired by God, though persons of different faiths interpret the Bible in different ways. Scholars continue to work with ancient Scripture sources to help us come to a better, fuller understanding of the Bible.


The word bishop comes from a Greek word for "overseer" or "supervisor." In the Anglican Church, the bishop is the chief priest and pastor of the diocese and symbolically unites the church community with the original apostles. In the early United States, in fact, Episcopal bishops took on the role of missionaries just as the apostles did. They journeyed to the western frontier to establish churches where none existed.

Today the bishop heads the diocese, though many bishops see their role as pastoring church members rather than governing them. Bishops counsel those wishing to become priests or deacons, and also ordain new priests and deacons. They preside at confirmations and they also may baptize and celebrate the Eucharist. Bishops are obliged to visit all the parishes in their diocese regularly.

Excerpted from Anglican Young People's Dictionary by June A. English. Copyright © 2004 June English. Excerpted by permission of Church Publishing, Inc..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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