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Ornaments, Church 

Items of symbolic or decorative value in church, such as an altar cross, a processional cross, and altar candles. There was considerable controversy in the Episcopal Church during the latter part of the nineteenth century concerning the use of church ornaments and other ritual or ceremonial practices such as genuflections and the use of incense. Canons on ritual were debated at the 1871 and 1874 General Conventions. James DeKoven was a delegate to the 1871 and 1874 General Conventions and a leading defender of ritualism. He argued that practices such as altar lights, genuflections, and the use of incense symbolize the real, spiritual presence of Christ. DeKoven believed that these practices do not symbolize the doctrine of transubstantiation, as feared by the opponents of ritualism. At the 1874 General Convention, DeKoven was an advocate for comprehensiveness and tolerance in worship. Although a canon on ritual was ultimately passed, it was seldom enforced. In many respects, DeKoven's comprehensive vision of worship was the view that prevailed in the Episcopal Church. Church ornaments such as altar crosses and altar candles are present in virtually all Episcopal churches. The Prayer Book form for the Dedication and Consecration of a Church includes a general prayer of dedication for ornaments or furnishings (BCP, p. 573). The BOS provides specific forms for the dedication of a variety of church furnishings and ornaments, including forms for a cross, candlesticks and lamps, a service book, pictures and statues, a vessel for incense, and any church ornament. 




Glossary definitions provided courtesy of Church Publishing Incorporated, New York, NY,(All Rights reserved) from "An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church, A User Friendly Reference for Episcopalians," Don S. Armentrout and Robert Boak Slocum, editors.
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