Tuesday, July 21, 2015

What’s in a name?

From The Living Church-

Some things rise to one’s consciousness slowly. One that has been nibbling on the mind for some time, but which burst into awareness at General Convention in a new way this summer, is the formulation “The Episcopal Church in” as a replacement for “The Episcopal Diocese of.” So, for instance, we have the name “The Episcopal Church in Minnesota” rather than “The Episcopal Diocese of Minnesota,” a usage which has been introduced over the last few years not only in that diocese but in others as well. I’m imagining that in each case this has not been a formal change in articles of incorporation, but rather a change in self-conception and public presentation, but I could be wrong.

What’s in a name? Before becoming too exercised by this “innovation,” there are a few points to be made. “Diocese” is a word that is unfamiliar to many, a word moreover that has developed at least two pronunciations as familiarity with its use has faded. So “The Episcopal Church in” formulation has at least the virtue of being easily recognizable and pronounceable. There are also considerations of commonality: a diocese wants to be clear about its brand, as in “The Episcopal Church Welcomes You.” And there is also a historical point to be made: the word “diocese” was not used much in the Episcopal Church until the 1830s, when the church in some states began to multiply new “dioceses” that subdivided civil jurisdictions, or even leapt over their boundaries, and canonical language began to change in favor of the more traditional formulation. Until then, the language of church law largely spoke of the bishop of each state or district. Remember as well that “diocese” has its origins in a civil entity within the late Roman Empire.

More here-


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