St Thomas Burwood Anglican Church

Jargon Demystified

This information is provided to help you if you are unfamiliar with the church jargon (or even if you are familiar with it). If you find we have missed any, or disagree, or see how we could avoid using this jargon in the first place, please let us know.

These are not necessarily literal definitions. Some are tongue-in-cheek. If you think this list is too simplistic you are probably right. You can look up these definitions in a real dictionary but don't forget to check that dictionary definition against the way the Bible uses the particular word.


A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z


A

AD
Abbreviation for the Latin phrase Anno Domini. Literally "In the Year of Our Lord".
An ancient dating system measuring from a datum intended to be the year of the birth of Jesus Christ.
Recent re-calibration of the datum places the birth of Christ at least four years earlier than the intended event, possibly as much as seven. Does this mean the millennium bug never existed after all?
Also known as CE or "Of the Christian Era", or "Of the Common Era".
AE
African Enterprise - Evangelism organisation working in Africa.
Anglican
The style of church practice largely peculiar to the English (=Episcopalian). Anglican church practice changes from place to place, especially in Melbourne.
APBA
A Prayer Book for Australia (see also Communion)
This book contains the latest set of orders of services which we as an Anglican Church are authorised to use.
Archbishop
Bishop responsible for overseeing the major Diocese of a province of the Anglican Church (In Australia normally the capital city of the state.) (see Bishop)

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B

Baptism
The basic membership ceremony of the Christian Faith symbolising both the washing away of sin and new birth into Christ, carried out in the name of God the Father, the Son & the Holy Spirit. Sometimes including name-giving. A sacrament.
BCA
Bush Church Aid Society - Missionary Society working in more remote parts of Australia - generally providing worship and evangelism services to remote areas.
Bishop
A supervisor of a diocese or a region of a diocese.

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C

CMS
Church Missionary Society - An Anglican Missionary organisation working in many parts of the world. Started in 1799 by a group that included John Newton, who wrote Amazing Grace and William Wilberforce.
Chancel
In some churches (3), this is the part of the building where the choir sit, between the Nave and the Sanctuary
Church (1)
All the people anywhere who trust in and follow Jesus Christ.
Church (2)
All the people who belong to a denomination including those who trust in and follow Jesus Christ (e.g. Anglicans).
Church (3)
The principal meeting place of a Church (4).
Church (4)
The people who regularly meet in the principal meeting place. See also parish (3)
Church (5)
The central building in a church (3) complex.
Church (6)
The Sunday meeting of the Church (4)
Churchwarden
See Warden
Communion (1)
Meeting together for a symbolic meal. A sacrament where we remember the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ and are fed spiritually as we partake of the physical bread and wine. There are 3 Orders of Service for Holy Communion in APBA. At St Thomas' at 8:30am we rotate between the three Orders of Service and at 10 am we generally use the Third Order (APBA3). At 11:30 we generally use an order of service in Cantonese that comes from the Diocese of Hong Kong. All are welcome to attend these Communion services. Those who have been baptised (some people refer to this as Christening) and are believers in Jesus Christ are welcome to partake of the bread and wine with us.Others are invited to come forward for a blessing.
Communion (2)
Another way of referring to the wider community of a denomination. e.g. the Anglican communion.
Confirmation
Ceremony in which a person takes on themselves the promises made at their baptism by their Godparents and Parents. i.e. they profess their belief in God the Father, in Jesus Christ his Son and in the Holy Spirit, they renounce all evil in the world and declare themselves to be followers of Jesus Christ as the Lord of their life.
We generally hold a confirmation once a year and mostly young people who have been attending youth group and have heard what it means to become a follower of Christ take the opportunity to publicly affirm their faith in God and their desire to follow Christ for the rest of their lives.
Congregation (1)
The people who participate in the church service on Sunday.
Congregation (2)
People who attend a particular church on a regular basis. (see also Parishioners)
Crèche
Babies and small children who are too young to go to Sunday School often leave the Church Service during the sermon. These children and adults gather in the crèche.
Curate
Normally an ordained person in their first three to four years of ministry in a local parish, though technically they're an assistant curate and the vicar is the curate, ministering on behalf of the bishop (but that's very technical!).
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D

Deacon
Someone who helps out in a church. In the Anglican Church this title is normally reserved for those who have been ordained for this specific ministry. In other denominations it is used for certain leaders of the congregation. The name derives from one who serves, though in many cases this has been long forgotten.
Denomination
A church (2) who are agreed on their name along with other fundamental beliefs and/or practices.
Diocese
A larger geographical area made up of a number of parishes (1).

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E

EFAC
Evangelical Fellowship in the Anglican Communion. See the EFAC Website for more details.
Elder
A senior person in the church community.
Episcopalian
The style of church practice characterised by having bishops. In USA = Anglican.
Evangelical
One who believes in the Bible as the word of God, sufficient for salvation and for the establishing of faith, in salvation by faith (as opposed to good works and sacraments) alone and in the imperative of evangelism (2). Sometimes confused with "low-church" . In the Anglican Church there are 2 other main streams of tradition. These are the Anglo-Catholic (emphasising ceremony and tradition) and the Liberal (normally referring to a theological slant rather than ceremonial, though often linked with Catholic into a liberal-catholic combination) streams.
Evangelism (1)
Belief in telling other people about Jesus Christ.
Evangelism (2)
Telling other people about Jesus Christ.
Expository Preaching
Expository preaching moves from what a text of Scripture says to apply it to the current situation of the hearer. It presupposes a process of extracting the God-intended meaning of Scripture and an explanation of that meaning in a contemporary understandable way.

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F

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G


H

Hawthorn
An AFL football team. Likely to lose to Sydney, among others, though in 2008 they're doing rather well.

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I

Incumbent
The vicar of the moment, normally with tenure for 10 years, extendable in periods of 5 years.

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K


L

Lent
A period of 40 days (not counting Sundays) before Easter when many Christians remember the forty days Jesus spent in the desert being tempted by the devil. Many Anglican Churches hold special Bible studies during this period. These are referred to as Lenten Studies.
Low Church
A Church where ceremony takes a low profile and the more Catholic elements (e.g. incense, priestly garments, bells, often candles) are absent.
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M

Maundy Thursday
The Thursday before Easter when Christians remember the Last Supper and Jesus' arrest by Pilate.
Ministry
Serving people.
Can also refer to prayer with a person concerning their personal needs, sometimes with laying on of hands.
MMA
Medical Missions Auxiliary. Organisation working within CMS.
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N

Narthex
An Anglican way of spelling foyer (usually of the main Church building). Originally an area at the rear of the church building to which women and those who had not yet been baptiised were admitted.
Nave
Main body of a church (3) building. Not where the knaves sit or stand. It derives from the latin word for ship, so perhaps the shape of the building at this point or the ceiling lines suggests the body of a ship.
Notices
Time in the service when someone tells the congregation what's written in the news sheet in front of them so if they're actually listening at that moment they'll find out what's happening.

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O

Offering
Parishioners are encouraged to give money to the Church in a planned way. 'Free Will' Offering Envelopes are available for parishioners to put their money in. These envelopes, along with cash, are collected during the service each Sunday during the Offertory Hymn.
Offertory Hymn
The hymn sung while the offering is being collected is generally known as the offertory hymn.
Ordained/Ordination
The process by which a bishop, as representative of the Church (2) (or perhaps (1) depending on your theology)), acknowledges God's call and gifting of someone for leadership and/or service in the Church and authorises them and sets them apart for this ministry.
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P

Parish (1)
A small arbitrary geographical area within which one particular church is responsible for letter box drops. Usually, there is at least one church building and a vicarage in that area.
Parish (2)
Everybody who lives in a particular parish.
Parish (3)
Everybody who goes to that particular church. (At St Thomas' there is no longer a significant correlation between parish (2) and parish (3). This is often the case these days, although generally at least the vicar lives in the parish). See also church (4).
Parish (4)
An entirely unrelated arbitrary geographical area used in Victoria by the Titles Office on Certificates of Title.
Parishioners
Regular attenders at Church are known as parishioners or as the Congregation.
Passing the peace
A time, particularly in Communion Services when we greet other members of the congregation for the purpose of making peace. This is done in response to the declaration of forgiveness and consequent peace with God and in preparation for taking Holy Communion.
Passover
A Jewish festival commemorating the night when the angel of death passed over the houses of the Israelites in Egypt (Exodus 12) convincing Pharaoh to let the people leave to begin the Exodus. It is also the festival at which Jesus Christ was crucified. Christians occasionally celebrate a form of the Passover meal on the Thursday before Easter, usually incorporating a communion service
Pew sheet
Another name for the weekly news sheet given out at church (6). Also known as a Pew Bulletin.
Praise & Prayer & Proclamation
A Service of Praise Prayer and Proclamation is held on the second & fourth Sunday of the month at 10 am at St Thomas'. Holy Communion is not part of this service. We are fed by hearing God's Word! This service is to hear God's word proclaimed, to praise God through songs and music and to speak to Him in prayer in a slightly less formal atmosphere than the Service of Holy Communion.
Prayer chain
A group of people who agree to pray for people with urgent prayer needs. When someone in the chain is contacted they then contact the next person on the list who contacts the next person and so on until everyone is informed and can pray about the issue.
Prayer points/list
Items for which or people who would like prayer.
Prayer meeting
A meeting dedicated to praying for issues and people. A prayer meeting is held each Wednesday morning at St Thomas' to pray for the church.
Prayer Support
If you have something or someone you need prayer for, there is a blue slip left in the pews for people to pass prayer requests on to the prayer team Fill this in and put it in the collection plate. Your prayer needs will be prayed at the Prayer Meeting the following week.
Preach
Give a talk during a Church service. See also sermon. See also Expository Preaching
Priest (1)
A person responsible for offering sacrifices for atonement of sin on behalf of everybody. This is the meaning used in the Old Testament. In the New Testament Book of Hebrews there is a clear explanation of how there is now one High Priest (Jesus Christ) and the church (1) is now a "priesthood". For a thorough detailed explanation of how this works read Hebrews chs 4 to 10 and 1 Peter 2.
Priest (2)
A senior leader in a church (4). An elder. The New Testament uses the term elder or bishop for what we now call a priest. In the Catholic tradition these are often called Father. In the evangelical tradition this is most unusual. Rather they are referred to by their first name or more formally as Mr ... or the Reverend ... or simply Reverend ... Please note however that Reverend as a title by itself is a misuse of the term.
Priest (3)
Any combination of the meanings of the above almost unrelated terms. By far the most popular definition since the same word is used in English for both concepts. This definition combines the Old Testament and New Testament meanings. This often leads to confusion as to what the New Testament passages really mean and as to what their role should be today.
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R

Rector
What they call vicars in New South Wales (a state a little north of Victoria) and a number of other dioceses.
Reformation
A reorganisation of who believed what and what really matters a few centuries ago. We think it was a "Good Thing", but that the associated violence was a "Bad Thing".

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S

Sacerdotal
Having to do with priests, especially with the idea that priests offer sacrifices in the Communion service.
Sacrament (1)
A symbolic Christian ceremony, instituted by Jesus Christ, such as baptism and communion. An outward and physical sign of an inward and spiritual truth.
Sacrament (2)
The food used in a communion service. Also known as the elements.
Sanctuary
Normally the part of the church (3) where the communion table is placed. Some churches, though, now place the communion table in the nave, which upsets the whole nomenclature of the building. It does, however, convey the idea of the Church (4) meeting together around the Lord's Table rather than watching a priest perform a sacrificial duty in the far reaches of the building.
Also in medieval times a custom of seeking the church(2)'s protection against secular authorities.
Sermon
The main talk during a service. See also Expository Preaching
Service (1)
A meeting of the congregation.
Service (2)
Helping people.
Sidesperson
A person who is responsible for welcoming people to church (6) and ensuring they receive any books and/or handouts that they should receive.
Small group
A group within the church (4) which meets regularly (often weekly) with a common purpose such as bible study, prayer, personal support, etc.

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V

Vestry (1)
The main changing room in a church building.
Vestry (2)
The principal committee of a parish. In other places this is called a Parish Council. The group of people who are charged with promoting the whole mission of the Church (4), pastoral, evangelistic, social, and ecumenical. So called because they traditionally met in the vestry(1).
Vicar
The elder in charge of a parish. This term is regularly used of Anglican church leaders who are ordained, though sometimes they're called the Rector.
Where the buck stops. Licensed by the Archbishop to take responsibility for a particular Parish (1). See also Priest.

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W

Warden
One of the people responsible for the finances and buildings of the church (4). Normally there are three wardens in a Parish (1).
Word, The
The Bible. God's Word.

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X


Y


Z

 

Jargon used at St Thomas'
© 2007: The Vestry of St Thomas' Anglican Church Burwood, VIC, in conjunction with The Vestry of

St. Columb's Anglican Church Hawthorn Vic.