Churches try to be welcoming, but no matter how much we work at it, we end up with some “insider language” that can be confusing for people (even those who’ve been around for a long time). Here’s a list of some of the many terms commonly used at ECC. We’ve probably missed something, though, so if there’s something you still don’t quite get, please ask!
Acolytes: Persons who light the candles at the beginning of worship in the traditional service. Often these are young people.
Advent: The period of preparation (four weeks) before Christmas.
Advent wreath: A wreath fitted with four candles, usually three purple and one rose-pink, with a white “Christ candle” in the center. It is used for marking the passage of Advent up to Christmas by the lighting of increasing numbers of candles. We have a beautiful iron advent wreath stand made especially for our church.
Baptistry: Located in the Chapel, behind the communion table, in a lighted chamber. It is a large tank in which baptisms (by immersion) are celebrated. Although ECC chooses to immerse those who wish to be baptized, we also recognize those “sprinkled” or baptized as infants as being fully baptized. We do not do “rebaptisms” under most circumstances.
Board: The official governing body of this congregation, made up of the elected ministry leaders in the congregation.
CCIW: The shorthand way of referring to the Christian Church in Illinois and Wisconsin. (See Region).
Chalice: A goblet-like cup, used as the common cup in communion. Because of the centrality of communion in Disciple worship, the symbol of the denomination is a chalice.
Chancel: The raised space at the north end of the sanctuary on which are situated the communion table, the choir loft, the pulpit, and the lectern.
Chapel: The small worship space at the west end of the narthex (see below), perpendicular to the sanctuary, where the baptistry is located.
Christian Church (Disciples of Christ): The official name of our denomination.
Church Extension: A general ministry of the denomination through which investments may be made and through which churches may borrow money for building work and receive consultation on planning such work.
Cluster: The local network of Disciple churches in reasonable proximity to each other. We are in the Illinois Valley Cluster, basically the Peoria area. It includes churches in Peoria, Creve Coeur, Pekin, Eureka, Mackinaw, Washburn, and Henry.
Communion Table: The table located at the far end of the chancel from which Communion is served in the traditional service. In the First Light service, the Communion Table is a table placed in front of the chancel steps.
DHM: Disciples Home Missions. This is the administrative unit in the general church which oversees special ministries to men, to women, to children and youth, refugee resettlement, Christian education support, volunteer ministries, and the search-and-call office (which handles pastor placement).
DOM: Division of Overseas Ministries. Our general office governing our world-wide mission. We do this in cooperation with the corresponding office of the United Church of Christ.
Deacons: Officers of the church, elected by the congregation, who assist with Communion, ushering, and other aspects of worship.
Denomination: The organization of Christian Churches (“DoC”) which work cooperatively in order to enhance our ministries. We share tradition and service elements, although there is a lot of variation among our CC(DoC) congregations.
Disciples Mission Fund: The general level “treasury” into which our contributions go, then to be distributed to the various general ministries of the church.
Easter Vigil: A service on the night before Easter.
Ecumenism: Cooperation and mutual respect with other Christian denominations (see also “Interfaith”).
Education Building: The southernmost section of the church, containing the Fireside Lounge, the choir room, Sunday school rooms, the youth room, and the Nursery. Eureka Community Nursery School meets here during the week, September through May.
Elders: Officers of the church, elected by the congregation, to be spiritual leaders of the church. Elders preside at Communion and shepherd the congregation.
Epiphany: January 6, observed on the Sunday closest. By tradition, the coming of the Wise Men. Light is a major symbol for Epiphany.
Fireside Lounge: A parlor area in the Education wing (south end of building), adjoining a meeting room where the large screen TV is located. There is also a small kitchen adjoining.
First Light: The name of our early service held at 8:15 a.m.
Gathering space: The area off south of the narthex, which includes a restroom and the elevator.
General Assembly: A meeting held every other year of Disciples from the US and Canada. Congregations send delegates who have a vote, but anyone may attend.
General Church: Refers to the national level of church organization of our denomination. The headquarters office is in Indianapolis, IN.
General Minister and President: The official title of the Chief Executive of our denomination. Our current GMP is Rev. Terri Hord Owens.
Good Friday: The Friday before Easter, marking the day of the crucifixion.
H.E.L.M.: Higher Education and Leadership Ministries. The general denominational unit that co-ordinates giving to Disciple-related colleges and seminaries, and provides Disciple Leadership Scholarships to qualifying Disciple students attending those colleges.
Heritage Parlor: Or just “the parlor.” The small sitting room across the hall from the church office, which is decorated in Victorian style and contains photos of all our church buildings and pastors.
Inasmuch: A day of service when all church members are invited to volunteer to help homeowners who are not able to manage certain tasks on their property, or to participate in other service projects. Usually held every other year.
Indianapolis: In the context of church, this is sometimes used to refer to our General Headquarters or the general level of the church.
Interfaith: Similar to ecumenism, but extending beyond the Christian family to include other religious traditions as well.
Intinction: The celebration of Communion by coming forward, receiving a piece of bread, and dipping it into a common cup. Intinction is regularly practiced at our First Light service.
Lectern: The stand on the east side of the chancel, opposite the pulpit, from which the liturgist leads worship in the traditional service. The Bible is located on the lectern.
Lent: The season of preparation leading up to Easter. Lent begins on Ash Wednesday.
Liturgical Year: The seasons of the church year, denoted by different colors of the paraments. The liturgical year (or church year) begins with Advent (purple), then Christmas (white), after Epiphany the color goes to green, Lent (purple again), Easter (white), Pentecost (red), then “ordinary time” in which the color is green. White is used for celebratory events like weddings and funerals. Red is used for ordinations. These uses are independent of the liturgical year.
Liturgist: A layperson who participates in the traditional worship service by reading the opening prayer, the scriptures, and the invitation to the offering. This is a volunteer position.
Maundy Thursday: Sometimes called Holy Thursday. The Thursday before Easter, this day recalls the night that Jesus celebrated Passover with his disciples and instituted the Lord’s Supper or Communion. We mark it typically with an evening service.
Moderator: The leader of the Board. In other times referred to as the Board President or Board Chair.
Narthex: The entry hall to the south of the sanctuary, into which the front door opens.
Ordination: A special service in which the status of ordained minister is granted to one who has completed the requirements thereof. In our church, the home congregation usually ordains ministers with the approval of the Region.
Organ console: The organ manuals (keyboards) and pedalboard, where the organist operates the organ. It is located in the northeast corner of the chancel.
Organ loft: (Also may be referred to as the pipe chamber). The room above the chancel on the west side, in which the pipes for the organ are located. It is identifiable by a permeable screen which is a bit different from the chancel ceiling.
Paraments: The banners used on the pulpit, lectern, and communion tables.
Parish Hall: The fellowship hall on the second floor above the offices, where large dinners and gatherings are held.
Paten: A plate used to hold communion bread.
Peace Pole: The four-sided pole in the front yard, just south of the sanctuary door. It has the words “May Peace Prevail on Earth” written in eight different languages. For more information, go to the Peace Pole Project website.
Pentecost: A special day recalling the “birthday” of the church, when the Holy Spirit came upon the Disciples in the temple, described in the book of Acts, chapter 2. It is timed according to when Easter is, usually in late May or early June.
Pipe Chamber: See Organ loft.
Pledge: The estimate of giving in the coming year which an individual or family commits to the church by filling out a pledge card at the culmination of the stewardship campaign, usually in October.
Pulpit: The place from which the minister presides and preaches in the traditional service. The symbolism of the pulpit is that the word coming from there is the word of God, delivered through the preacher.
Reconciliation Ministries: The program in our General church which has the responsibility for our work toward becoming an anti-racist church. This is carried out through anti-racism workshops and trainings and also by providing grants to organizations working for racial justice.
Region: Smaller geographic divisions of the denomination which may be a state or a group of states. Our Region is the Illinois/Wisconsin Region.
Regional Assembly: A meeting of representatives from all the congregations in a Region (who wish to participate). Congregations send delegates who have a vote, but anyone may attend. It is held every other year, on alternate years from the General Assembly.
Regional Minister: The Pastor and Executive Officer of a Region. There may also be Associate Regional Ministers.
Sanctuary: The large “auditorium” part of the church where worship takes place.
Seminary: An institution of post-graduate education which prepares candidates for ministry.
Sheep Shed: Our nickname for the area of the sanctuary on the far west side, where the ceiling is lower than in the main space.
SnackPac: A program through which bags of food are distributed to District 140 schools to provide weekend food for kids who receive free lunches during the week.
Stewardship Campaign: The program which encourages giving to the church and particularly pledging one’s estimate of giving so that planning for the coming year is possible.
Stole: The vestment worn by ministers which goes around the back of the neck and extends down either side in front on the outside of the robe. Stoles usually correspond to the color of the liturgical season, but may represent other events, ministries, etc.
Teams: Formerly referred to as “committees,” these are ministry areas through which the work of the church is carried out. Our current teams are Administration, Discipleship, Education, Outreach, Property, and Worship.
Trustees: Officers of the church, elected by the congregation, who oversee the assets and investments of the church.
Vestments: Robes, stoles, etc. worn by ministers. In Disciple churches, these are usually pretty simple.
Week of Compassion: The program of our General church which provides response to emergency needs domestically and worldwide due to natural disaster or war or famine. WOC is supported entirely by special offerings. For more information about the Week of Compassion’s work in the world, you can visit their website.
This Guide to Churchy Words is adapted from a list originally written by Rev. Rebecca Littlejohn.