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The Convocation of Episcopal Churches in Europe

Called To Ministry

Annex: Glossary

Posted by The European Institute for Christian Studies on


Accredited seminaries or institutions: seminaries or institutions whose programs have been approved by the Convocation of Episcopal Churches in Europe.

Acolyte: in contemporary Anglicanism, a general term which covers not only servers, torchbearers, and lighters of candles but also crucifers, thurifers, and banner-bearers.

Agape: a Greek term for one of the four types of love in the Bible. Jesus showed agape love and commands his followers to do likewise.

Anglicanism: the doctrines, principles, or system of the Anglican Church.

Anglican Communion, The:  churches in communion with the See of Canterbury throughout the world. Member churches exercise jurisdictional independence but share a common heritage concerning Anglican identity and commitment to scripture, tradition, and reason as sources of authority. Churches in the Anglican Communion continue to reflect the balance of Protestant and Catholic principles that characterized the via media of the Elizabethan settlement.

Applicant: a person seeking to begin a vocational discernment process in and with the help of a local congregation.

Ascetical theology: the organized study or presentation of spiritual teachings found in Christian Scripture and the Church Fathers that help the faithful to more perfectly follow Christ and attain to Christian perfection.

Aspirant: a Nominee who has applied and not yet been approved for postulancy, but who has been accepted by the Bishop and COMB for a period of vocational discernment, personal and spiritual growth, and theological education.

Baptism:  the full initiation by water and the Holy Spirit into Christ's Body, the church. God establishes an indissoluble bond with each person in baptism. God adopts us, making us members of the church and inheritors of the Kingdom of God (BCP, pp. 298, 858). In baptism we are made sharers in the new life of the Holy Spirit and the forgiveness of sins. Baptism is the foundation for all future church participation and ministry.

Bishop: the Bishop in Charge of the Convocation. The Bishop is responsible overall for the development of lay and ordained ministry, including the ordination process; for licensing of lay ministers; the admission of Postulants and Candidates; and ordination.

Bishop’s Committee: a group of people selected by the Bishop to provide administrative and pastoral direction to the members of a mission church.

Call: a term often used in connection with a vocation (see “vocation”).

Candidate for Holy Orders: a person who has completed postulancy and may still be in the process of theological education, and who, having fulfilled the necessary canonical steps, is in the final phase of preparation and examination for being qualified and fit for ordained ministry. This is the last stage before being accepted by the Bishop for ordination.

Candidate for Licensed Lay Ministry: a person who has been nominated by their priest for a licensed lay ministry.

Canons: the rules of The Episcopal Church (together with its Constitution), as last revised, under which it operates. The Convocation, as part of The Episcopal Church, is subject to their authority. The Canons pertaining directly to the procedures described in these guidelines are Title III, “Ministry.” Nothing in these guidelines should be construed as in any way contradictory to the Constitution and Canons.

Catechist: a person trained and licensed to prepare Candidates for Baptism (and their parents and godparents in the case of young children), Confirmation, Reception and the individual Reaffirmation of Baptismal Vows. A catechist may be responsible for training and equipping the Sunday School teachers in a parish or group of parishes. A catechist may also be a person especially equipped to help the members of a congregation to understand and live out their calling as baptized Christians at the heart of God's world (Canon III.4 and especially Sec. 8).

Catechism: Church doctrine as set forth in the Creeds and An Outline of Faith.

Christology: the doctrine of Christ. The traditional scope of Christology covers an exposition of the person of Christ, usually in terms of the Chalcedonian Definition, a carefully balanced formula designed to express both the full humanity of Jesus of Nazareth and his full divinity as the Son of God.

Clergy, Members of the: persons in holy orders, ordained for the ministry of Bishop, Priest, or Deacon. The Episcopal Church canons concerning ordination for these ministries are equally applicable to men and women.

Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) is education to teach pastoral care to clergy and others. CPE is the primary method of training hospital and hospice chaplains and spiritual care providers in the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

COMB country liaison: the COMB contact person for the churches and the clergy in a country who explains and interprets the vocational discernment process. Once an aspirant’s nomination has been approved by the Bishop, the person is assigned a COMB mentor.

COMB mentor:  the COMB member who is assigned to work with the Nominee to clarify the steps toward ordained ministry. The mentor reports to COMB on the progress of the person in the process. EICS will also assign an academic advisor for the Nominee’s formation.

Commission on the Ministry of the Baptized (COMB, hereinafter referred to as “the Commission”): a group of lay and ordained persons appointed by the Bishop to assist in the development and affirmation of lay and ordained ministries in the Convocation. The Commission makes advisory recommendations to the Bishop regarding petitioners for certain lay and all ordained ministries.

Confirmation: The Episcopal Church's theology of Confirmation has continued to evolve along with its understanding of baptism. Confirmation is no longer seen as the completion of Christian initiation, nor is Confirmation a prerequisite for receiving communion. Baptism is full initiation by water and the Holy Spirit into Christ's body the church (BCP, p. 298). Accordingly, Confirmation has been increasingly understood in terms of a mature, public reaffirmation of the Christian faith and the baptismal promises.

Congregation: a group of people who make up a parish or mission church affiliated with the Convocation.

Consecrated Elements: the consecrated bread and wine of the Eucharist.

Consequentialism: the doctrine that the morality of an action is to be judged solely by its consequences.

Convocation: The Convocation of Episcopal Churches in Europe, a part of The Episcopal Church and as such also part of The Anglican Communion.

Council of Advice: a body of four clerical and four lay representatives, elected by the Convention of the Convocation, which serves in the same capacity as the Standing Committee of a diocese (Canon I.15.9). The Council's role is to interview Postulants as they proceed to Candidacy and to give advice and consent to Candidacy, and for ordination, to certify that all canonical requirements for ordination have been met.

Deontology: the study of the nature of duty and obligation.

Diaconate: a full order equal to the presbyterate and the episcopate, the diaconate plays an important role in many dioceses and congregations. As commonly used, the term refers to those ordained deacon as a permanent vocation. Those ordained deacon as a preliminary step toward ordination as a priest, as required by canon law, are called "transitional deacons."

Discernment Committee: a group of Christians from one’s congregation who follow a formal process instituted by the Commission’s Guidelines for Discernment Committees in the Convocation of Episcopal Churches in Europe for helping a person discern God’s call, under the authority of the person’s Priest, and in consultation with the Bishop.

Discernment process: a process of  exploration (that may involve interviews), guidance and training offered to someone discerning a call to ordained ministry or to someone pursuing acceptance for a licensed lay ministry.

Divine Command theory: a meta-ethical theory which proposes that an action's status as morally good is equivalent to whether it is commanded by God. The theory asserts that what is moral is determined by what God commands, and that to be moral is to follow his commands.

Ecclesiology: from the Greek ekklesia, “church,” and logia, “doctrine,” the term refers to the doctrine of the church.

Episcopacy: government of the church by Bishops.

Eros: one of the four words in Ancient Greek which can be rendered into English as “love”. Eros is the term for sexual love itself, as well as the god's name.

Eschatology: theology of the last things, the end of time and history, the coming of the Kingdom of God.

Eucharistic Minister: a person licensed by the Bishop who is trained to administer the elements at the Eucharist together with Priests and Deacons assisting the celebrant.

Eucharistic Visitor: a person licensed by the Bishop who is trained to take the Sacrament (consecrated at a celebration of the Eucharist immediately beforehand) to members of the congregation unable to attend due to illness or infirmity. (Canons III.4. esp. Sec. 6 and 7)

European Institute of Christian Studies (EICS): a commission of lay and ordained persons appointed by the Bishop to provide and oversee the formation of those seeking lay and ordained ministries in the Convocation. EICS works closely with the Bishop and Commission to ensure the requirements of The Episcopal Church and the Convocation regarding education of people in training.

Evangelist: a lay person trained and licensed to present the Good News of Jesus Christ in such a way that people are led to receive Christ as Savior and follow Christ as Lord in the fellowship of the Church (Canon III. Sec 4.9).

Field Placement: the preparation of the postulant that involves supervised practical application of the theoretical course in a church environment. The practicum provides students with the opportunity to integrate and apply classroom learning in a church work environment, which allows them to observe and learn from clergy in the field.

Formation: education and training.

General Ordination Examination (GOE): The General Convention of 1970 created the General Board of Examining Chaplains (GBEC), with responsibility to prepare at least annually a General Ordination Examination covering 1) The Holy Scriptures; 2) church history, including the ecumenical movement; 3) Christian theology; 4) Christian ethics and moral theology; 5) studies in contemporary society, including racial and minority groups; 6) liturgics and church music; Christian worship and music according to the contents and use of the Prayer Book and The Hymnal; and 7) theory and practice of ministry. Candidates are examined in these seven areas before ordination to the diaconate.

Good News, the: the message of good news described as a narrative in the four gospels. The message of good news is described as theology in many of the New Testament letters. It relates to the saving acts of God due to the work of Jesus on the cross and Jesus' resurrection from the dead which bring reconciliation ("atonement") between people and God.

Homiletics: the art of preaching or writing sermons or other religious discourse.

Intercessor: a person specially gifted in intercessory prayer.

Intinction: the Eucharistic practice of partly dipping the consecrated bread, or host, into the consecrated wine before consumption by the communicant.

Layperson: any person who has not been ordained either to the diaconate or to the priesthood.

Lector: a parishioner trained and appointed by the Member of the Clergy to read the Lessons, lead the Psalms, or lead the Prayers of the People.

Letter of support (Vestry):  the Nominee's congregation or other community of faith attestation committing the community to:

  1. pledge to contribute financially to that preparation, and
  2. involve itself in the Nominee's preparation for ordination to the Diaconate. (Canon III.5.2c)

Licensed Lay Ministries: any of the seven lay ministries provided for in the Canons (III.4.3-9) whose exercise requires the support of a Member of the Clergy in charge of a congregation and licensing by the Bishop (Pastoral Leader, Worship Leader, Preacher, Evangelist, Catechist, Eucharistic Minister, and Eucharistic Visitor). Lectors and intercessors may be appointed by a Member of the Clergy in charge without licensing, but as in all forms of ministry should receive appropriate instruction and preparation.

Member of the Clergy: Deacon, Priest and Bishop.

Missiology: the study of the missionary function of the Christian Church.

Mission: a congregation that is not self-supporting and which is under a vicar.

Nominee: a person who, with the support in writing (including financial help if appropriate) of a Member of the Clergy and his/her congregation, is seeking a public ministry in the Convocation, either as a Deacon or Priest, but who has not yet been officially received as a Postulant or accepted for training as a licensed pastor.

Ordained Ministries: the Diaconate and the Priesthood.

Parish: a self-supporting congregation under a rector.

Parishioner: a person recorded on the electoral role of a parish or mission.

Pastoral Leader: a person trained and licensed to exercise pastoral leadership and/or administrative responsibility in an existing or newly planted congregation (Canon III.4 and especially Sec. 3). This license requires the most extensive educational process. (It replaces for the most part the office of Licensed Lay Reader. The term “Lay Reader” is no longer used in the Canons.)

Personal statement: an article detailing the person’s spiritual journey.

Philia: is one of the four ancient Greek words for love: philia, storge, agape and eros.

Postulant: a person who has been accepted by the Bishop, as provided for in the Canons, for a period of vocational discernment, personal and spiritual growth, and theological education en route to ordination.

Preacher: a person trained and licensed to proclaim the Good News of God in Christ Jesus in the world at large, as well as in the worshipping community, always under the direction of the Member of the Clergy or other leader exercising oversight (Canon III.4 and especially Sec. 5).

Priesthood: the body of people ordained as Priests.

Priest-in-Charge: a Priest in charge of a parish who is not its incumbent.

Reception (Christian Commitment): the act of publicly affirming one’s faith and commitment to the responsibilities of one’s baptism in the presence of a Bishop by a baptized person who has been a member of another Christian fellowship and who wishes to be affiliated with the Episcopal Church.

Reaffirmation of baptismal vows: the presentation to a Bishop of persons already baptized in the context of a service of Baptism or Confirmation to reaffirm their baptismal vows.

Rector: a Priest in charge of a parish that is fully self-supporting.

Safe-guarding God’s children: a child protection policy and educational program.

Spiritual life: life in the context of faith.

Spiritual Director: someone you can talk with confidentially about your prayer and spiritual life. A spiritual director helps you explore the darkness of self-doubt, confusion, fear and anger so that you are able to be free of what blocks you from God's loving presence.

Synoptic Gospels: The Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke, which describe events from a similar point of view, as contrasted with that of John.

Systematic theology: a discipline of Christian theology that formulates an orderly, rational and coherent account of the Christian faith and beliefs.

Teleology: the explanation of phenomena by the purpose they serve rather than by postulated causes.

Usher: someone who helps the orderly conduct of a service, as well as incarnating the welcome and hospitality of the congregation.

Vestry: The Vestry is the legal representative of the Parish with regard to all matters pertaining to its corporate property. The number of Vestry members and the term of office varies from parish to parish. Vestry members are usually elected at the annual parish meeting. The presiding officer of the Vestry is the Rector. The basic responsibilities of the Vestry are to help define and articulate the mission of the congregation; to support the church's mission by word and deed, to select the Rector, to ensure effective organization and planning, and to manage resources and finances.

Vicar: The title generally applies to the Priest in charge of a mission congregation. The diocesan Bishop is the Rector, and the Priest representing the Bishop is the Vicar. The term is derived from the Latin vicarius, “substitute.”

Virtue theory: currently one of three major approaches in normative ethics. It may, initially, be identified as the one that emphasizes the virtues, or moral character, in contrast to the approach which emphasizes duties or rules (deontology) or that which emphasizes the consequences of actions (consequentialism).

Vocation: From the Latin vocare, “to call,” vocation is the “calling” one infers from the external and internal signs which evolve over time. Vocation may involve a task or job, but it also concerns a way of life. All Christian vocations — lay or ordained, single or married or religious — are specific expressions of Christian identity rooted in the baptismal covenant.

Vocational Discernment Conference: A retreat structured to help anyone seeking God's will for their life hosted by the COMB, usually held around the beginning of Advent. Attendance is required for people considering ordination and encouraged for certain licensed lay ministries (Pastoral Leader, Worship Leader, Preacher, Catechist and Evangelist).

Vocational Discernment Process: The process beginning at the congregational level and moving forward first to the Bishop and then to COMB, by which petitioners clarify the nature of the ministry that they seek, and is either licensed to a lay ministry, ordained, or asked to undertake another form of ministry.

Worship Leader: A person authorized to lead Morning or Evening Prayer in a congregation with permission of the Bishop and under the direct supervision of the clergy or a Pastoral Leader.

 > Return to Introduction to Vocational Discernment and Licensed Ministries