Henry VIII

Humanly speaking, one of the main instruments of the reformation in this country because of his disagreement with the Pope about his marital affairs.   Perhaps a prime example of God’s ability to turn the wrath of man to praise Him!   ‘Nuff said!

High Church

A label used to describe those who have a high view of the church and tend towards Roman Catholic doctrines.   In practice, they tend to give greater weight to the authority of church tradition than to that of the Scriptures and are also described as anglo-catholic for this reason.

Holy Communion

The liturgical service which is a memorial of the institution of the Lord’s supper by the Lord Jesus Christ on the night of His betrayal.   Indeed, its alternative name is the Lord’s supper.   At present, full participation in it is restricted to those who are confirmed members of the Church of England or who, being baptised in the Name of Father, Son and Holy Ghost, are communicant members of denominations with which the Church of England is in full communion.   The Book of Common Prayer requires communicant members to attend at least three times a year, one of these attendances being at Easter.   Debate continues about the admission to this service of unconfirmed children who have been baptised, on the grounds that baptism is the only rite of admission into membership of the church that is laid down in the Scriptures.    

Holy Eucharist

See Holy Communion

Hymns

The singing of hymns is a prominent constituent of worship services in the Church of England, as it is in the services of most denominations.   It is one feature of church life that draws the denominations together, for in their denominational hymnbooks they make free use of one another’s hymns. E.g. in the most recent edition of the Baptist Hymnal, a present-day Anglican bishop is the third most represented author.   The first two are Charles Wesley, a Methodist, and Isaac Watts, a Congregationalist.

Incumbent

The general name given to the minister of a benefice, charged with the          cure of souls in a parish.   He/she may be entitled vicar or rector, or, in some circumstances, perpetual curate.

Intercessions

An important constituent of Anglican services, in which the needs of the world are brought before Almighty God and his blessing invoked.   They are often made by lay people and can be a valuable way of involving them in the liturgy.   Common Worship gives considerable freedom in the composition of intercessions, and to that extent encourages topicality.   It is an important way of showing the relevance of the Christian faith to everyday life.

Laity

The collective noun for all the faithful members of the church who are not ordained!   Apart from their attendance at services, the laity carry out an immense range of tasks related to the effective work of the church, and now have recognition within the governance of the church through the synodical structures that came into being with the passage of the Synodical Government Measure 1970.

Lambeth Quadrilateral

The common ecclesiological and theological basis of the Anglican faith.   It upholds the Holy Scriptures as containing all things necessary for salvation; the Creeds (and in particular the Apostles’ and Nicene) as a sufficient statement of faith; the Sacraments of Baptism and Holy Communion; and the historic episcopate.

Lectern

The piece of furniture that was to be found in every church and from which the Scripture lessons were read at Morning and Evening Prayer.   With the loosening of liturgical worship and the consequent re-ordering of the interiors of many churches, the lectern is not always to be found.   (See also Pulpit).

Lectionary

An important constituent of every Anglican service is the reading of Scripture.   The lectionary sets out to provide a list of readings that, if followed, cover most of the Bible over a three year cycle.   They relate to the topics appointed for the Sundays throughout the year and also to the collects that are similarly prescribed.    

Leicester Race Course

This deserves a mention simply because it – or its directors – are in fact the patrons of a living!   No wonder there was pressure to reform patronage!   (See under patronage for the present situation and breathe a sigh of relief and a word of thanksgiving).

Lessons

The rather outmoded name given in the Book of Common Prayer to the portions of Scripture to be read at services.   The Alternative Service Book and Common Worship both use the word “reading”, which is clearly to be preferred.

Liberal

The group within the Church of England that cannot accept that the Bible is inerrant and therefore its final authority.   Nor can they accept the authority of tradition, as the catholic wing does.   They look to human reason as the final authority, although taking full account of both Scripture and tradition.   See also evangelical and catholic. 

Licence

To officiate in a parish requires a licence from the appropriate bishop, whether as an incumbent or, for example, to preach, conduct weddings or funerals.   Retired clergy often are licensed to officiate in the parishes to which they have retired.

Liturgy

One of the characteristics – many would say strengths – of the Church of England is that its services are intended to have a recognisable structure – ie they are liturgical – and to that extent to be predictable.   Indeed, in the days when the Book of Common Prayer was the only authorised source of all the services, a worshipper could attend a service in any parish church and find that the service was the same as that which he was used to in his own church.   Common Worship (see Prayer Books) has so many possible compilations for every service – as a matter of deliberate policy – that it is most unlikely that a worshipper, visiting another church, will find the services identical with what he is accustomed to back home.   Nevertheless, it provides a valuable flexibility and is in modern English, both gains for practical use.   The General Synod has a liturgical commission whose purpose is to bring to the synod proposals for revision of existing services or for new services to meet new needs.

London

The third diocese in seniority after Canterbury and York.   Also the first diocese to delegate, by law, substantial Episcopal powers to suffragan bishops in terms of independent responsibility in their areas.   It only covers London North of the Thames, and not all of that – Chelmsford and St Albans cover parts.   London South of the Thames is mainly under the jurisdiction of Southwark.

Lord's Supper

The basic name for what the Church of England usually calls Holy Communion.   See also Eucharist.

Lord's Table

One of the doctrinal changes introduced at the Reformation related to the Mass, which was no longer to be regarded as a re-enactment of the death of Christ on the cross.   No longer was the minister to be regarded as a sacrificing priest.   To make this as clear as possible, Cranmer in the new Book of Common Prayer removed all references to an altar, with its sacrificial connotation, and referred to that piece of furniture as the Lord’s Table.   It is the table on which the bread and wine are placed for the service of Holy Communion and at which the minister presides at that service.   See also Articles 28 and 31.

Low church

The antithesis of high church.   Those of this persuasion place less emphasis on rites and ceremonies, and, more positively, look to the Scriptures as the source of their doctrine.   Whilst high church is still in use, low church has become less in vogue; those of this persuasion do not downgrade the place of the church in God’s economy.

Measure

When General Synod passes a resolution that needs the force of law in order to take effect, it needs the final approval of Parliament.   It is known as a Measure eg The Pastoral Measure 1968, and becomes part of the law of the land, enforceable, if necessary, by the courts.

Minster

A large church, originally a mission centre in a diocese in the Saxon church, gradually superseded with the growth of population and the parish system.   Some eg Southwell are now cathedrals.

Mission

One talks about the mission of the church.   Some mean, by this term, its evangelistic mission, in obedience to Christ’s commission to his disciples.   Others think of it in terms of helping to improve the lot of the poor and disadvantaged.   It really covers these two inseparable objectives, which interact and provide mutual credibility.

Missionary

An outdated term that used to be applied to those who were sent out from this country to convert the heathen!   It is no longer acceptable and has been replaced by other terms such as “mission partners”.