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.


Joshua was the leader Moses appointed to succeed him after his death, laying his hands upon Joshua and committing to him the leadership of the people of Israel. According to biblical history, Joshua led the Israelites, who had been tested for forty years in the desert, across the River Jordan and into the promised land of Israel.


A pastor (from the Latin word for shepherd) is a member of the clergy with responsibility for a particular congregation. For Lutherans, it is a formal title for a parish minister.


Crèche—“crib” in French—is the Christmas season display of the birth-scene of Jesus. It may be simple or elaborate, but always includes the parents, Joseph and Mary, and the crib—a manger for the feeding of cattle in a stable. In some folk traditions, the representation of the baby Jesus is added to the crib only on Christmas Eve.


Jerusalem, the ancient capital of Israel from the time of King David (c. 1000 BCE), was the ritual and spiritual center of the Jewish people for 1,000 years until the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 CE. For Jews, Jerusalem is still the geographical epicenter of the tradition. For Christians, Jerusalem the site of the mighty events of Christ’s death and resurrection. For Muslims, Jerusalem is the place where the prophet Muhammad came on his Night Journey from Makkah to the very throne of God.


Ordination means consecration to a priestly or monastic life. The term is used in the Buddhist tradition for the rites of becoming a monk (bhikkhu) or nun (bhikkhuni); in the Jewish tradition for the rites of becoming a rabbi; and in the Christian tradition for the rites of becoming a priest or minister.


The Amish are Protestant Christians of Anabaptist origin, beginning in Europe in the late 16th century with commitment to the adult “believer’s” baptism and to pacifism. In the U.S., the Amish in Pennsylvania, Ohio, and other parts of the Midwest have maintained a strong sense of community and continue to insist on simplicity, rejecting the use of modern technology.


In the Christian tradition, confession is the public or private acknowledgment of sin, which is said to separate human beings from God and from one another.

Holy Thursday

Holy Thursday is the Thursday of Holy Week, the week before Easter. It is the day on which Jesus is said to have shared a final meal with his disciples before he was betrayed to the Roman authorities who arrested him. It is also called Maundy Thursday, from the new commandment (mandatum) Jesus gave his disciples on that day: to love one another as he had loved them.

Nicene Creed

The most universal creed of the Christian community worldwide, the Nicene Creed was formulated by the ecumenical council called by the Emperor Constantine at Nicaea in Asia Minor in 325 CE. The creed affirms a Trinitarian understanding of the One God—as Creator, as Christ, and as Holy Spirit.

St. Jacques Majeur

The Roman Catholic counterpart of Ogou in the Haitian Vodou tradition. Also called St. James.


Christianity is the religious tradition of Christians: those who confesses faith in Jesus Christ, follow the path Christ taught, and gather together in the community of the church.


Fundamentalism is an early 20th century American Christian movement often seen as a conservative response to the influence of the Enlightenment, new Biblical scholarship, and the claims of modern science. It stressed five points of faith it called the “fundamentals,” beginning with the literal “inerrancy” of the Bible. The term fundamentalism is often used more widely to describe dogmatic forms of religious belief.