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Glossary: P

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Palm Sunday (Passion Sunday)

The Sunday immediately preceding Easter Sunday. Palm Sunday commemorates the entry of Jesus into Jerusalem and begins the series of observances focusing on the events of Holy Week. This Sunday... More


The leaves of the palm tree used in many churches as part of the procession and the observances of the Palm Sunday worship services. The palms symbolize the response of... Read More


The linens and cloth hangings used on communion tables, altars, pulpits and lecterns. The colors of the paraments reflect the traditional colors of the seasons of the Christian year. The... Read More


The area served by the local church. Parish also tends to be used often as a synonym for the local church and the people it serves. United Methodism does not... Read More

parish nurse

A parish nurse is a registered nurse with additional preparation in holistic ministry who assists members of the congregation to become more aware of their health and to move toward... Read More


Owned by the pastoral charge, the house provided as the residence for the family of a pastor. A housing allowance may be granted by the pastoral charge for the minister... Read More

Paschal candle

The large candle placed near the Lord's table and lighted during the Easter season, placed near the baptismal font at other seasons and lighted for baptisms, and placed lighted near... Read More


The ordained or licensed person who has been appointed by the bishop to be in charge of a local church or churches. The pastor in this formal sense is the... Read More

pastoral charge

One or more local United Methodist churches to which an ordained or licensed minister is appointed by the bishop. The pastoral charge is organized according to The Book of Discipline... More

pastoral letter

An open letter sent to the local churches and members by a bishop of the church. From time to time, the Council of Bishops of The United Methodist Church has... Read More

pastoral prayer

The prayer offered by the minister in the course of a service of worship for and on behalf of the congregation. Traditionally, the pastoral prayer has occupied a prominent place... Read More

Pastor-Parish Relations Committee

Or Staff-Parish Relations Committee. It works closely with the pastor and staff concerning their relationship with the congregation and the entire work of the church. This committee is in essence... Read More

Peace with Justice Sunday

A special Sunday authorized by the General Conference to be observed with an offering to be taken up throughout the denomination on the second Sunday after Pentecost. The focus of... Read More

Peace, the

The ancient and traditional practice of Christians greeting one another with a sign or word of love or blessing. This is done with an embrace, a handshake, a handclasp, or... Read More

Pension and Health Benefits, General Board of

The agency that supervises and administers the pension and benefits programs, plans, and funds of The United Methodist Church. It administers and disburses the retirement and benefit funds of the... Read More


One of the principal days of the Christian year, celebrated on the fiftieth day after Easter. The Greek word pentecoste means "fiftieth day." Pentecost is the day on which the... More

Pentecost, Season After

The period in the Christian calendar extending from the day after Pentecost Sunday to the first Sunday in Advent. By tradition, the Sundays after Pentecost are numbered. The first Sunday... Read More


In the broadest sense, an earnest request, prayer, or supplication to God. Often, such petitions are intercessory prayers, lifting the concerns for an individual or a group of people to... Read More

petition (to General Conference)

A request to the General Conference for official action on a topic or issue. A petition to the General Conference may be a request for an amendment to the Constitution,... Read More

petitions to Judicial Council

Requests to the Judicial Council make declaratory rulings and decisions. Upon petition, the Judicial Council rules on the constitutionality and legality of actions of the General, Jurisdictional, Central and Annual... Read More


The organization and practices of a denomination. Source: Sharing God's Gifts Glossary of United Methodist Terms Read More


The musical selection played or sung at the conclusion of a service of worship. The postlude generally follows a benediction given by the pastor or other worship leader. Source: A... Read More


The musical selection played or sung at the beginning of a service of worship. It is generally considered a part of the gathering time of the congregation for the worship... Read More

presiding elder

A historical term in American Methodism for an elder who supervised a number of pastoral charges. As Methodism in America grew and geographically defined districts were established, the office of... Read More

probationary member, Annual Conference

A person who has met all of the conditions set forth in The Book of Discipline for probationary membership and has been received by vote of the ministerial members of... Read More

professing member

A baptized person who has taken vows declaring the Christian faith. Professing members include all people who have come into membership by profession of faith or by transfer from other... Read More


The Hebrew name given to hymns or songs of praise. Although there are many other psalms in Hebrew literature, for ancient Israel the collection of 150 became their hymnal. For Christians... Read More


A separate book or portion of a book or hymnal containing the Psalms. The psalter often contains the Psalms arranged for singing or liturgical or devotional use. The United Methodist... Read More


A stand or tall reading desk used by the minister for preaching or for conducting a service of worship. In most United Methodist churches the pulpit is on a dais. ... Read More