The Coptic Church is the ancient and still vibrant church of Egypt, an autonomous Christian church which dates its origins to Mark the Evangelist in the 1st century. It continues to be led today by a patriarch called a Pope; its liturgical life is conducted in both the ancient Coptic language and Arabic.


A nun is a woman who renounces worldly life and is ordinarily a member of a monastic order or community, thereby undertaking a special commitment to study, service, asceticism, prayer, or disciplined spiritual practice. In the Buddhist tradition, fully ordained nuns are called bhikkhunis, those who beg alms, depending upon the laity for their food and support. The early lineage of bhikkhunis died out long ago in the Theravada traditions of South Asia, but was preserved in the Mahayana traditions of East Asia where nuns outnumber monks today in Hong Kong and Taiwan. In the Jain tradition,... Read more about nun

Roman Catholic Church

The Roman Catholic Church, often referred to as the Catholic Church, is the largest of the major streams of Christianity. It claims the authority of Christian tradition dating to the time of the apostles. Its representative and interpreter is the Pope, the Bishop of Rome, whose center of authority is the Vatican in Rome. The church is organized worldwide into parishes and dioceses.


Gospel means “Good News” and refers to the central message of the Christian tradition: the good news of Christ’s life and message of redemption. Gospel refers more specifically to the four books that tell the story of the Christ event and became part of the New Testament. There are other gospel accounts that were not included in the canon of the New Testament.


The Book of Psalms is part of the Bible cherished by both Jews and Christians as a song-book and prayer-book. It is ascribed to King David and expresses such heart-felt prayers of praise, petition, and penitence that it has become a central part of the liturgical life and the private devotions of people in both religious communities. The Bay Psalm Book of the Massachusetts Bay Colony was the first English-language book printed in the Americas.


The Christian Franciscan religious order, distinctive for its adherence to a vow of poverty, was founded by St. Francis of Assisi in 1209.


The chancel is the part of church, often elevated by a few steps, where the altar and pulpit are located. Often this is where choir members are seated and the place from which clergy conduct the service.


The Methodist church is a Protestant communion of churches which began in England with John Wesley (1703-91) and has become a worldwide movement. In the U.S., the United Methodist Church—one of the largest Protestant denominations—is known for its strong social principles and hearty evangelical spirit.


The dispensational view is one that divides human history into eras called “dispensations.” In the premillennialist view, there are seven dispensations beginning with the Garden of Eden and ending with the Millennium and the coming of the Kingdom of God.

St. Bridget

St. Bridget (1303-1373) was born in Sweden and devoted herself wholly to spiritual life after the death of her husband. She founded a religious order and lived the last decades of her life in Rome. She was canonized as a saint in 1391.


Deism is a belief system that upholds the existence of a God using rational (rather than supernatural) grounds.


Baptism is the Christian sacrament of initiation in which new birth into the Christian community is conferred by sprinkling of or immersion in water.


In the Christian tradition, Lent is the period of forty days of preparation, study, and penitence preceding Easter.


Pentecost was the “fiftieth” day after Easter and is celebrated in the Christian church as the day on which the Holy Spirit descended upon the followers of Christ gathered in Jerusalem, inspiring them to form a new community of preaching, praise, and practice. It is sometimes known as the birthday of the church. Its events are narrated in The Acts of the Apostles, chapter 2.

Apostolic Church

The term apostolic refers to the early Christian era, with traditions of ministry and authority derived from the apostles, the immediate disciples of Jesus.