Useful words

Here are some words we use on this website. Some of them are used only within the Anglican Church; some others are Maori or Pasifica words (Anglican Missions represents New Zealand, Aotearoa and Polynesia), which speakers of English may not be familiar with).

You might find these words useful as you navigate our website, or when you are doing your own research.


Advent – is the period of four Sundays and weeks before Christmas (or sometimes from the 1st December to Christmas Day!). Advent means 'Coming' in Latin. This is the coming of Jesus into the world. 

Archbishop – is the senior Bishop and principle leader

Archdeacon – is a senior clergy position, a priest next in rank below a bishop

Ash Wednesday – the first day of Lent, the season before Easter

Baptisma Christian rite of admission and adoption, almost invariably with the use of water, into Christianity

Bible – the Christian scriptures consisting of the Old and New Testaments

Bishop – a senior member of the Christian clergy, usually in charge of a diocese

Canon – a rule or set of rules in the Christian church; it can also be a name given to a priest with special functions.

Catechism – oral or written instruction of the sacraments and doctrines of the Church

Cathedral – a Christian Church that is the seat of the Bishop

Celebrantis a person who performs formal ceremonies, namely wedding and funeral ceremonies, but also including renewal-of-vows ceremonies and many others.

Clergythe body of all people ordained for religious duties, especially in the Christian Church – priests for example.

Confirmation in the Christian Church it is the rite at which a baptized person, especially one baptized as an infant, affirms Christian belief and is admitted as a full member of the Church.

Congregation – the group of people attending a Church service or attending a specific church on a regular basis; or a group of people assembled for religious worship.

Conventiona meeting or assembly of people who share a common interest or a convention is a method, practice, rule or custom

Crosiera hooked staff carried by a bishop as a symbol of pastoral office.

Diocesea district under the pastoral care of a bishop in the Christian Church.

Deaconan ordained minister of an order ranking below that of priest.

Dean – a priest who holds a position of authority – generally in charge of a cathedral.

Easter – the significant time in the Christian calendar remembering the death of Jesus and celebrating his resurrection.

Episcopal – relating to a bishop or a church that is directed by bishops.

Epiphanyan appearance or manifestation, especially of a deity; or a sudden, intuitive perception of or insight into the reality or essential meaning of something.

Fast Daysdays when one abstains from all or some kinds of food or drink, especially as a religious observance.

Feast Days a day on which a celebration, especially an annual Christian one, is held – sometimes on a day of observance of a saint’s death.

Gospel – the teaching or revelation of Christ; the ‘Gospels’ refer to the record of Christ's life and teaching in the first four books of the New Testament.

Holy Week – the week preceding Easter, starting on Palm Sunday.

Installation –  Christian liturgical act that formally inducts an incumbent into a new role at a particular place such as a cathedral.

Laity – members of the church who serve in and for the church but who are not ordained.

Lay Clergy – ministers of the church who are elected but not ordained.

Lent – the 40 weeks leading up to Easter beginning on Ash Wednesday; it is a time of reflection and preparation leading up to Easter.

Minister – a member of the clergy, usually leading a church. More commonly called a Vicar in the Anglican Church.

Ordination – a process and ceremony whereby someone becomes priested. They are consecrated and so able to perform various religious rites and ceremonies.

Pakeha – a non Maori person, usually a white person.

Parish –  a small administrative district typically having its own church and a priest or Vicar.

Pentecost – the time remembering when the Holy Spirit was given to the disciples of Jesus after his Ascension, held on the seventh Sunday after Easter.

Pihopatanga – Maori word for Bishopric – a district under the pastoral care of a bishop (like a diocese)

Primateis a title or rank bestowed on some archbishops in certain Christian churches.

Rectora priest in the Church of England who is in charge of a particular area. Possibly a term not used as much in NZ.

Reverend – a member of the clergy/an ordained priest; and the term of address used for that person, e.g. Rev Jo Bloggs

Rohe – a Maori word meaning boundary, district or region.

Seminarya training college for priests; a theological school.

Synod – annual (usually) business gathering or assembly generally held for each diocese.

Tikanga – the customary system of values and practices that have developed over time and are deeply embedded in the social context; used to refer to each wider grouping of the Anglican Church in NZ, Aotearoa & Polynesia, i.e. we are a 3 tikanga church, e.g. tikanga maori, tikanga pakeha, tikanga pacifica.

Vestry –  a room in a church which the clergy use as an office or to change into their ceremonial clothes for a church service; also used to describe the governing group of a church (which usually includes the priest in charge and elected lay members)

Vicar – priest in charge of a church.

Wardena person who has been entrusted with the oversight of something important – in a church there is often a peoples warden (looks after the welfare/concerns of the congregation) and a vicar’s warden (supports the welfare of the vicar).