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Bible Dictionaries

The American Church Dictionary and Cycopedia

East, Turning to the

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By this expression is meant turning to the Altar in saying the Creed and Glorias and in celebrating the Holy Communion, this last being called the Eastward position. This practice arose from a custom in the early Church. When converts to Christianity were baptized, which was usually in the early morning, they first turning to the west where the night was fast receding, renounced the world and the powers of darkness, then turning to the east where the sun was rising as the source of all light, they confessed their belief in Christ who, in Holy Scripture is Himself called the EAST, "the Dayspring from on high." For this reason they prayed facing the east, and when they came to build their churches they built them running east and west; the Chancel, in which the Altar is placed, being in the east and towards it they made their prayers and confessed their belief. Thus it came about that the Altar in our churches is always regarded architecturally and ecclesiastically as the east whether it is so in reality or not.

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Bibliography Information
Miller, William James. Entry for 'East, Turning to the'. The American Church Dictionary and Cyclopedia. 1901.

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