Words Episcopal

If you visit an Episcopal Church upon one or more occasion you might begin to wonder what some of the 'Episcopal vocabuary' means.  Below are descriptions of words you might hear in conversation, so you can speak and understand 'Episcopal too.'

What does 'Episcopal' mean?

Episcopal is a Greek word meaning overseer, and is translated
into English as 'Bishop.'  We find the word bishop or overseer in scripture as the early church was forming, particularly in Philippians1:1, Titus 1:7 and 1 Timothy 3:1-2. Together the Bishops form the structure of the church.  Each Bishop watches over a geographical area referred to as a 'sea,' or more often a diocese.  The Bishop that oversees all the Bishops is the Presiding Bishop of the United States.   Each Episcopal Church belongs to  Diocese, that is watched over by a Bishop.  St Matthew's belongs to the Episcopal Diocese of Arkansas, our Bishop is The Right Revered Larry R Benfield. 

What is the relationship between the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion?

The Anglican Communion is a world wide association of churches who share their roots in the Church of England (or Anglican roots) and are structured by Bishops, sharing both heritage and identity.  The Anglican Communion is a federation, where each country has its own church and bishops, yet we recognize our common bond.   The worldwide Anglican Communion, comprising more than 85 million members in 44 regional and national member churches around the globe in more than 160 countries. The Bishop of Canterbury (England) is the figure head of the Anglican Communion.  The Presiding Bishop  of the United States, The Most Rev Michael Curry, represents the Episcopal Church of America within the Anglican Communion.

What is the "Book of Common Prayer"

The Book of Common Prayer guides us through our liturgy for
Sunday worshi
p,weddings, funerals and all types of gatherings in God's praise. The Book of Common Prayer's origins come from having a "common" language and knowledge of the worship setting for clergy, congregation and visitors.  The book includes liturgies, prayers, Psalms, and Catechisms.  It is used in worship by the entire congregation, and can be used at home for prayers and for daily devotions, called the Daily Office.

What is the Holy Eucharist?

The Holy Eucharist
 is the name of the main service, usually on Sunday, where we have the Liturgy of the Word (scripture readings and prayers) and the liturgy of the Table, or the Great Thanksgiving, also known as Holy Communion, or the Lord's Supper or in Episcopal speak the Great Thanksgiving.  Eucharist, is Greek, and means 'thanksgiving.'  The Great Thanksgiving, or Communion consists of blessing the bread and wine, as a sacrament of the body and blood of Christ. It is shared with clergy and the congregation alike from a common cup.  The Holy Eucharist is received by the people at the altar rail, either kneeling or standing or if persons are unable to come to the altar rail, the Communion may be brought to them in the pew, if they so desire.

Words used to describe the inside of a church

The church terms Narthex, Nave, Sanctuary, 
Altar, and Sacristy are words that describe the worship space inside the church.  When you enter St Matthew's the outer room, or receiving area is the narthex.  The nave is the body of the church, where the congregation is seated in the pews.  The sanctuary is the space behind the altar rail.  The sanctuary is consecrated, meaning blessed or holy space. The altar is the table where blessing is given over the bread and wine by the priest. The sacristy is a "side room" where the bread, wine, chalice, candles, etc., are stored and made ready for Eucharist celebrations.