Glossary of terms

This section lists some common words and terms used in the Church of England. Cclick on the first letter of the word and a list of words beginning with that letter will appear. Click on more.. for that word for an explanation.  This will open a separate window with the description and, in some cases, an image.


Readers have been in the Church since 1866 and women have been Readers since 1969. They used to be known as Lay Reader. A Reader is a lay person, licensed by the Bishop to preach, to teach; to conduct services, but not to celebrate at the Eucharist. They can read banns of marriage, take funerals with the agreement of the Vicar and the family of the deceased and have full involvement in the pastoral work of the parish.

We have two Readers in the Beacon Parish: Richard Allen and Colyeen Blanchard.


Reverend is a term of respect applied to all the clergy since the 15th century and should be used as a prefix to their name in correspondence. (see Clerk, Parson, Father, Vicar) In a Team Ministry the most senior priest is known as the Team Rector. Our Vicar, alias Father David, answers to all these titles: Clerk, Parson, Reverend, Father, Vicar

Rural Dean

Our diocese is divided into three archdeaconries and each archdeaconry is divided into deaneries. The Beacon Parish is in the Archdeaconry of Horsham and in the Deanery of Hurst. All the clergy in the Deanery belong to the Deanery Chapter, chaired by the Rural Dean.

The Rural Dean is usually, but not necessarily, one of the parish clergy and he is appointed by the Bishop in consultation with the parish clergy. The present Rural Dean is Fr Kevin O'Brien, who is also Vicar of St John's, Burgess Hill.

The Deanery has its own assembly - the Deanery Synod - to which each parish sends representatives. The Rural Dean provides an essential link between the bishop, the clergy and the congregations. When there is no Vicar the Rural Dean will have a general oversight of the parish.