• Vivamus lobortis
  • Ut porttitor urna ut pretium
  • Phasellus convallis tincidunt enim.


Architectural terms

Buttresses Vertical projections on external walls designed to strengthen the wall or to resist the outward pressure of a vault.

Chancel The area in a church which traditionally contains the altar.

Classical An architectural style developed by the ancient Greeks and Romans and popular in the eighteenth century.

Gothic An architectural style which flourished in Europe from 1200-1600, characterised by pointed arches and windows, buttresses and rib vaults.

Nave The long arm of a church where the congregation sits.

Reredos A decorative wall or screen behind the altar.

Rood screen A screen which divides the chancel from the nave.

Transept Transverse arms of a church which cut across the nave and the chancel.

Vault An arched ceiling.[1]


Anglican Church Title for the Church of England adopted in Australia and some other countries. The Church of England is the established church in England. It remained under papal authority until the reign of Henry VIII during which the English Church separated from the Roman Catholic Church and the English sovereign became the Supreme Head of the Church of England.

Autocephalic Orthodox Church A sect of the non-canonical Orthodox Church, one of the churches not recognised by the Eastern Orthodoxy’s Ecumenical Patriarch. In Victoria they are represented by the Macedonian, Free Serbian and Ukrainian Orthodox Churches.

Baptists A Protestant denomination which refuses to baptise until the person is old enough to consciously accept the Christian faith. The General Baptist movement, which ascribes to the belief that Christ died for everyone, was founded in 1612 by John Smyth and Thomas Helwys. In contrast, the Particular Baptist movement, founded in 1633, was Calvinist and believed Christ died for the elect and that salvation was only for a particular few.

Catholic Church See Roman Catholic Church

Church of England See Anglican Church

Church of Scotland The established church in Scotland. It separated from Rome in 1560, primarily due to the influence of John Knox, the founder of Presbyterianism. It became the established church in 1696.

Congregationalism A Christian denomination in which each congregation is democratically self-governing and there is no central authority. Dating from the Reformation, Congregationalists were known as Independents in England.

Jehovah’s Witnesses A religious movement founded in 1872 by Charles Taze Russell in Philadelphia and based on Scriptural teaching. Jehovah’s Witnesses reject Christ’s divinity although he is considered to be God’s prophet. Members believe that only the elect will have salvation.

Judaism The religion of the Jewish people. In Orthodox Judaism the Torah, Judaism’s most sacred text, is the ultimate authority. Liberal Judaism aims to reconcile modern life with the fundamental precepts of Judaism. Temple Beth Israel, founded by Ada Phillips in 1930, was the first permanent Liberal congregation in Melbourne. The sexes are not segregated, as in Orthodox services, and observance of rituals and dietary rules are left to the individual.

Methodism John Wesley preached sermons throughout Britain but the Wesleyan Methodist Church was not organised until after his death, during the 1790s. The Conference is the supreme decision-maker and evangelical work is emphasised.

Presbyterianism A Protestant church which originated in the sixteenth century and was organised by followers of Calvin. Its organisation is based on government by elders. The Free Church of Scotland was a sect that broke with the Church of Scotland in the 1840s in protest at the perceived encroachment of the state on the church. The Presbyterian Church of Victoria was formed in 1859 and united most of the Presbyterian sects in Victoria. The Free Church continued, however, and in 1913 joined other Free Presbyterians to form the Free Presbyterian Church of Australia.

Roman Catholic Church. Since 1971 the Catholic Church has been the largest denomination in Victoria. It acknowledges the Pope as the head of the Church and was the spiritual authority in Western Europe until the advent in the early sixteenth century of the Protestant movement which highlighted the need for reform.

Salvation Army Founded by William Booth in London in 1865. It is organised on military lines and members wear a distinctive uniform. It is renowned for its social work.

Uniting Church An amalgamation of some Presbyterian, Methodist and Congregational churches which came about in 1977.

Wesleyanism See: Methodism.[2]

[1]     This brief glossary is based on Lewis, Victorian Churches, Glossary, pp. 158-61; and Richard Peterson, Brimstone to Bunyip: Churches of Collingwood, Clifton Hill and Abbotsford 1852-1999, Collingwood Historical Society, 1999, Glossary, pp. 76-82.

[2]     Based on The New Macmillan Encyclopedia, Macmillan, London, 1987 and Lewis, op. cit., pp. 8-19.