World Christian Database: glossary

Data source: Gina A. Zurlo and Todd M. Johnson, eds., World Christian Database (Leiden/Boston: Brill, 2023).

Glossary item Definition
abbé (French). A title applied in French to clerics in general.
abbess A woman who is the superior of one of certain communities of nuns following the Benedictine rule, also of orders of canonesses or of the Second Franciscan order.
abbey A senior or superior monastery with a large number of monks ruled by an abbot or a convent ruled by an abbess, or an abbey church.
abbey nullius (Latin, abbey of no diocese; symbol AN). An abbey whose abbot is exempt from diocesan control and under direct papal jurisdiction.
abbot In the Western church, the superior of a large religious house of monks, either Benedictine (Cistercian, Trappist) or Canons Regular.
Aboriginal Original indigenous inhabitant of country, of primitive culture.
Aboriginal indigenous churches Churches indigenous to, because started by, Australian Aborigines.
access This variable measures the degree to which speakers of a language can read the Scriptures in a language they understand. There are 2 varieties: (1) direct access to Scripture is available when a translation has been made into a peoples mother tongue; and (2) indirect access to Scripture is available when near-scripture (near-Bible, near-NT, etc) exists (translation in a language within the same cluster/outer language as the peoples mother tongue).
accessibility In evangelization, the quality or state or extent of a populations ability to be reached or accessible or approached or communicated with.
accumulated enrolment See enrolment.
acolyte In the Catholic Church, highest of the 4 minor orders conferred on candidates to the priesthood; also, a server who carries candles at mass.
acronym A word formed from the initial letter or letters of each of the successive or major parts of a compound term.
action point A sticking point or aspect holding up world evangelization which requires definite, specific action in order to overcome it.
active attenders The most active among a group of practicing Christians (qv).
active enrolment See enrolment.
actual audience Total persons who actually listen to or view a given radio/TV broadcast.
Addis Ababa See city of Ethiopian Orthodox patriarchate and patriarch.
adelphoi (NT Greek). Brothers, brethren; term in use by Christian Brethren (Plymouth Brethren) and other Protestants.
adept An enthusiastic adherent, well-trained devotee.
adepte (French). A follower, adherent.
adequacy The quality or state of sufficiency of resources or activities to meet prior standards or promises, with special reference to meeting stated goals published by religious bodies.
adequately-evangelized The state of evangelization or awareness of Christianity, Christ and the gospel in which persons may be described as having had an adequate opportunity to respond.
adherent A follower of a particular religion, church or philosophy. As used here, the term adherents refers to followers of all kinds (professing, affiliated, practicing, non-practicing, etc.) who are present-in-area residents: men, women, children, infants, nationals and expatriates, native- and foreign- born, immigrants, armed forces, displaced persons, refugees, nomads, et alii.
adherents Followers, supporters, members, believers, devotees of a religion.
Adivasis Aboriginal tribesmen in India.
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Data on 18 categories of religion, including non-religious, by country, province, and people.

Countries and regions

Data on all religions, Christian activities, and trends.


Membership data, year begun, and rates of change.

Cities & provinces

Population and religion data on all major cities & provinces.

Peoples & languages

Detailed information covering religion, culture, and geography.


A repository of historical data, including a chronology of Christianity from the 1st to 21st centuries.