The most commonly used name for the divine among modern Sikhs.
An austere form of Islam dominant in Saudi Arabia and Qatar that follows a strict, literal interpretation of the Quran. Most people in the West knew nothing of Wahhabism until after the 9/11 attacks, which were organized by the terrorist Osama bin Laden, a Wahhabi. Wahhabism has spread rapidly since the 1970s, when the oil-rich Saudi royal family began contributing money to it. It is considered an extremist form of Sunni Islam that strictly enforces rules and criticizes those who follow other traditions of Islam. Use Wahhabi for a follower of Wahhabism.
Large congregations in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are called wards, and they are led by a bishop and two counselors. Wards have specific geographic boundaries, and Mormon families attend the meetinghouse in their ward. Small Mormon congregations are called branches, which can develop into wards.
A New Year’s Eve worship service popular in African-American churches. It dates back to 1864, when tradition holds that slaves waited all night long to hear word of the Emancipation Proclamation.
Wheel of the Year
White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships
The successor to the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives, which was begun in 2001 by President George W. Bush to make federal funding available to religious organizations for social services. Under President Barack Obama, the renamed program was given a broader scope.
There are many forms of Wicca, but most share a worship of the divine feminine, or Goddess, and a reverence for nature and its cycles. It is traditionally believed to be based on the symbols, celebrations, beliefs and deities of ancient Celtic peoples. Many scholars consider it the largest segment of neopaganism, saying it can be traced back to Gardnerian Witchcraft, founded in the United Kingdom during the late 1940s. See neopaganism.
A document in the Wiccan faith that summarizes the faith’s moral system; influential to other occult faiths.
A modern anti-patriarchal popular social movement in which largely young, Western feminists compare themselves to witches. While this movement shares visual cues and some spiritual practices with traditional Wiccan or pagan faiths, it is generally a secular movement.
Word of God
Word of Wisdom
The Mormon teaching, believed to be a revelation given to founder Joseph Smith, that Mormons should abstain from tobacco, alcohol and hot drinks such as tea and coffee.
World Council of Churches
Formed in 1948 in Amsterdam, the World Council of Churches claims the membership of 340 churches, denominations and church fellowships in more than 100 countries and territories, representing some 550 million Christians, including most of the world’s Orthodox churches. The Roman Catholic Church is not a member but has a working relationship with the council. Based in Geneva, Switzerland, the council works for Christian unity while stressing that it is not aimed at creating a “global super-church.” It is viewed with suspicion by many theologically conservative Christian groups — including strong factions of some member churches — who believe that it waters down Christian theology and substitutes social action for spreading the gospel.
worship, worshipped, worshipper
Worship is the act of offering devotion and praise to a deity or deities. It is most often used in reference to formal religious services, but also applies to private prayer and other acts done to honor or revere the sacred. Many evangelical Protestants have a tendency to use it specifically in reference to music – especially contemporary praise music – sung in church. Thus, the leader of the contemporary singing group may appear in the church bulletin as “praise and worship leader.”
Pronounced “woo-DOO.” A ritual in Islam in which the hands, face, mouth and feet are cleaned with water, symbolic of spiritual cleansing. It is usually performed before a Muslim goes to prayer five times each day. See ablution.
Pagan Norse concept that corresponds to the idea of destiny or fate; an ancient term that has seen recent emergence in neopaganism, including contemporary Germanic neopaganism.