Worship Terms Glossary and Church Layout
Vestments: Special articles of clothing worn by priests, Lay Eucharistic Ministers (LEMs), acolytes and certain other participants in the church service are called vestments. The acolyte vestments consist of an alb which is the white hooded robe, a cinture, the rope belt, and a wooden cross around the neck. The priests and LEMs wear these except the alb is not hooded. The priest also wears a stole and puts on a chasuble, a cloak, at the Eucharist. During Holy Week, the alb may be exchanged for a black cassock.
Sacred Space: The nave is the large area where the congregation sits. The chancel is the front of the church, elevated up from the nave by one or two steps. The altar is the table at which the priest presides. It holds the cross, the altar book, the Gospel book, and the communion elements during the Eucharist. The sanctuary is the area inside the altar rail with the altar. The tabernacle is the small cabinet on the lower right wall of the chancel. The credence table is the shelf above the tabernacle. The sacristy is the altar guild workroom to the left of the chancel. The vesting room is the room to the right of the chancel, where the vestments are kept. The pulpit is the raised podium at the right, or gospel side, of the chancel from which the priest frequently gives the sermon, although occasionally standing at the chancel steps.
The Baptismal Font is centered in front of the nave, with torches on each side.
The lectern is the large stand on the left, or Epistle side, of the chancel, which holds the Bible.
The Paschal Candle is a large decorated white candle used at Easter, baptism and funerals. It is usually placed on the floor in front of and below the pulpit.
The Advent Wreath is used during Advent. It consists of a wreath of greens with five candles in it, three purple and one pink. One candle is lit during each Sunday in Advent, with the pink one lit on the third Sunday. The largest center candle is the Christ Candle, which is lighted on Christmas. The Advent Wreath is placed on the Baptismal Font.
Holy Communion or Eucharist is the central Christian ceremony in which bread and wine are consecrated and distributed as the body and blood of Jesus. Communicants are those receiving communion, celebrants are those giving communion. Items which the priest uses during the Eucharist and referred to as communion elements are, as stated above, the bread, which represents the body of Christ, and the wine, which represents the blood of Christ. We use purchased wafers for our communion bread. A small amount of water is poured into the communion wine to represent the water, which mixed with Christ's blood during the crucifixion. The wine and water are poured from cruets (silver pitchers) in the chalice, the silver cup. There is a large glass cruet, called a flagon, used for additional wine. The bread wafers are placed in a silver bowl, with extra ones held in a silver box. When the table is set, there is also a small plate called a paten, which holds a large wafer, called the Priest's host. This is the one the priest breaks during the Eucharist. Pacificators are the small linen napkins use to wipe the chalice. Ablutions is the ceremonial washing of communion vessels and the hands of the celebrant. The bowl used for the washing of hands is called the lavabo.
Acolytes are lay people, children or young adults, who assist in the worship service by carrying the Processional Cross, both the church and American flags, the torches and the Gospel book. They light and extinguish altar candles, help with the Offertory, assist with the preparation of the communion elements and the presentation of bread and wine, and perform ablutions us the lavabo. They are also prepared to give assistance in the chancel to any member of the congregation when required, such as using the chancel steps. They sit in the right-hand nave, front pew during communion.
Lay Eucharistic Minister (LEM) and Chalice Bearer (unvested LEM) are lay people licensed by the Bishop of the Diocese to administer the chalice at the Eucharist.
The narthex serves as the entryway leading from the outside of the church building into the nave.
As you face the altar referring to anything on the right-hand side of the church are more correctly stated as being on the Gospel side and similarly anything on the left-hand side would be the Epistle side.