Does your pulpit furniture reflect your worship style?
By: Andrew Holland
Ever since people began speaking before groups of listeners, they have found ways to elevate themselves above a crowd. Places for public speakers can be as natural as a small hill or as crude as an old tree stump. Podiums have been as casual as a wooden soap box and as elaborate as a marble platform positioned high up in a sanctuary.
As churches became more ornate and elaborate, so did the worship furniture inside. There are two primary pieces of chancel furniture a speaker uses: lecterns and pulpits.
A lectern is a slanted top, usually placed on a stand or affixed to some other type of support on the right side of the church (as viewed by the congregation). The word lectern comes from the Latin word "lectus," meaning "read." Lecterns are primarily used for reading from the Epistle and delivering the sermon, and so the right side of the church is often called the "espistle side." It is often said that lecterns are used to "teach from rather than preach from." Lecterns are also used by members of the congregation to make announcements, lead Sunday school classes, and conduct music.
Pulpits are larger and traditionally placed on the left side of the church. Because the Gospel lesson is taught from the pulpit, this side is often referred to as the "gospel side." In modern Evangelical Christian churches, the minister normally preaches from the pulpit, which may be placed in the center of the platform rather than to the side. Pulpits and lecterns are often incorrectly referred to as podiums; however, a podium is the raised platform on which the speaker stands.
Pulpits come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and styles. When deciding on a pulpit, one consideration is worship style. Certain denominations opt for a very large pulpit to demonstrate the grand importance of the scripture being read by the speaker. These churches prefer a much bolder, stronger presence, and pulpits with large columns and multiple tiers reflect that.
Other churches opt for a more minimalistic look, choosing a pulpit manufactured from acrylic (also known as "Plexiglas"), or a combination of metal and acrylic. These types of products help to not distract the audience from the speaker's point and do not hide hand and body motions. This non-verbal communication can add clarity and effect to the message being delivered.
Another consideration is the height of your speakers. Many church furniture manufacturers will custom-build your pulpit if the primary speaker is of a taller or shorter stature. Optional extensions or steps may also be purchased to accommodate different heights.
Lecterns also vary in design and may be outfitted with optional features, such as microphone attachments and pencil holders. For the technologically savvy speaker, a slide-out media shelf can be used for a laptop computer or PowerPoint controller when presenting slides or pictures.
Lecterns are often smaller than pulpits and are not permanently affixed to the floor. This allows for greater portability, since they may be moved on and off the stage during worship services.
Lecterns may be attached to a wooden stand or even be hung on the back of a pew for impromptu events and rehearsals. Many lecterns are adjustable in height; however, the standard height for most pulpits and lecterns is 42 inches at the low end of the book rest and 48 inches at the high end.
Pulpits and lecterns can be manufactured from a variety of materials, including solid wood, veneered wood, acrylic, metal, or a combination of these mediums. While veneered wood products may be less expensive in the short run, solid wood products will last much longer and not be as prone to break, crack, or swell.
When selecting a solid wood piece, look for any defects or scratches in the wood finish. Two coats of pre-catalyzed lacquer should be applied to protect the wood and give the speaker a smooth, splinter-free surface to work from.
Custom logos or inscriptions can also be routed on the front of solid wood pieces to showcase a church's mission and individual taste.
Solid wood furniture requires periodic maintenance to retain the wood's natural beauty. Using the appropriate furniture polish and a soft cloth will help to prevent the wood from drying out.
Acrylic pieces serve to remove the barrier between speakers and their audience. Non-verbal communication can help to unify preachers and their congregations.
Acrylic should be cleaned with a diluted glass cleaner and a soft cloth. Fine scratches can be removed by applying a rubbing compound in a circular motion.
Metal and acrylic pieces reflect a much more contemporary style of worship, while wood pieces retain that "old-world" feel still valued by many traditional churches.
No matter whether you choose a small piece or a big piece, wood or acrylic, a pulpit or a lectern, the important thing to remember is that the primary purpose is the convey the speaker's message and make an impact. Pulpits and lecterns can help in accomplishing this purpose.
Andrew Holland is with Covenant Church Furniture, www.covenantchurchfurniture.com.
Benefits of Glass Pulpits
By Steve Antunes
As church members enter the sanctuary, their attention is usually drawn to the platform and the pulpit that rests upon it. A pulpit is arguably the most important piece of furniture in your church; as the pastor is sharing the Word with church members, the focus is on the pulpit area. What does the pulpit represent? Is it just some material slapped together, or is it something that expresses the unique and meaningful message of the church?
As times have changed, so have church furniture and sanctuary layouts. From old wooden pews, the move has been made to chairs and theater seats. Churches are now built with multipurpose rooms and child care areas. Materials have changed as well, with products such as fiberglass, composites, and recycled plastics increasingly employed in sanctuary settings.
Pulpits have also undergone a modernization within the last 10 to 15 years. From large, heavy wood pieces, the transition has been made to elegant glass pulpits. Whether of standalone glass construction or in combination with wood trim and accents, these pulpits have been transforming the décor of sanctuaries worldwide.
One of the most striking advantages of glass church furniture is its suitability for displaying personalized and custom artwork. Where old wood pulpits were restricted to simple art or costly carving, deep glass etching allows for customized designs of unlimited scope, from subtle and complex to bold and simple. Its ability to promote your church's unique style, message, and mission is unsurpassed.
A frequent comment from pastors who have made the change to glass church furniture is that they enjoy a better connection with church members during the service. While behind their old wood pulpit, they felt as though they were hiding or that there was a barrier between them and their congregation. Many pastors have felt the need to wander away from their wooden pulpit to remind church members that they are more than a set of shoulders with a talking head placed on them.
Glass church furniture has sometimes been referred to as a chameleon, as it blends in so well with its surroundings. Besides the high build quality and durability of glass, one of the reasons for its longevity is how well it suits a variety of décors. Changing carpet or paint scheme in the church? No problem. Changing the sanctuary from a traditional to modern décor? Go ahead. The pulpit will absorb its surroundings and fit in.
Glass has clarity, sparkle, and elegance that is unequaled. Also, a glass pulpit is more rigid and sturdy. Finally, glass has a much longer life span both functionally and in terms of enduring beauty.
What should you look for when selecting a glass pulpit? As with any purchase, make sure to find a reputable company with many years of experience working with glass. Experience goes a long way in the industry.
Next, a glass thickness, of 3/8" or 10 mm is the ideal. It offers great strength and long lifespan.
When providing artwork, make sure that the company has the ability and enthusiasm to work with your logo. If the company is etching the glass, you want to make sure the art you finally approve is exactly what you want. There's no eraser! If you choose a smoked glass option, make sure that the glass itself is smoked and not just a tinted film applied to it. A film tint is stretchable and may become damaged if not carefully cleaned.
Make sure the pulpit rolls. Large glass pulpits weigh upwards of 500 pounds, so ask if it has recessed wheels to facilitate movement on your platform.
Finally, make sure you have the ability to make it yours. Find a manufacturer that provides options like wood trim, microphones, and lights and that allows you to change elements such as height. Pastors come in all shapes and heights, and your pulpit should, too.
Changing your pulpit is one of the most impactful things that you can do to update your sanctuary. Changing your pulpit provides a lasting impact at a relatively low cost. In these interesting economic times, that is what most churches are looking for.
Steve Antunes is a church furniture product specialist with Prestige Glass, www.prestigepulpits.com.
Smart Cart Lectern from Hertz
The Smart Cart Lectern is the perfect way for PC-based presentations to travel. This smart lectern cart system features excellent mobility within a religious, educational, or organizational setting. The interior shelves and locking doors designed in this lectern cart provide great organization and secure storage for your lecture's presentation material, as well as multimedia equipment. It features wire management grommets and a built-in power strip. The lectern's quality wood construction offers more durability, with an easily maintained laminate finish and a solid wood base.
Unified System for Audio Visual Interactive Desk by HSA
HSA has developed The USAVID – Unified System for Audio Visual Interactive Desk, a modular presentation platform with features selectable for a variety of applications. This is a clear choice whether the need is for a straightforward, American-crafted and beautiful wood podium or an interactive system requiring features such as a pullout document camera drawer, keyboard tray, CPU bay, and 19-inch rack mount protected behind HSA's signature locking Rolltop Tambour Door. The HSA USAVID is configurable with many options, available in three standard sizes and a variety of fine wood finish colors, book-matched wood veneers, and an array of durable high-pressure laminates to meet your church requirements.
Quik Stage Contemporary Truss Lecterns
Quik Stage Contemporary Truss Lecterns offer you a whole new dimension in lecterns or podiums that will enhance any church, conference room, or special event. Manufactured of all aluminum, they are light enough to handle, yet durable and stable enough to stand the test of time in any environment. They offer four different designs in standard black or silver, and all models are in stock for immediate shipping. Custom colors are also available by special order. www.quikstage.com
Prestige Glass is the premier manufacturer of unique church furnishings, providing the very finest in glass pulpits, lecterns, communion tables, and accessory items for churches throughout North America and overseas. With a wide selection of pulpit models, sizes, and top and trim options available, they can satisfy almost any need. But, if you still can't find that special piece, they also offer custom furniture design and manufacturing. From artwork preparation, through glass cutting and etching, to wood finishing and assembly, their staff is dedicated to providing you with furnishings that will truly grace your sanctuary.
Sound-Craft Systems has added a Bow Front Style lectern to their product offering. The new contemporary bow front lectern makes a striking visual impact that cannot be ignored. Finely finished hardwood veneer curves uninterrupted around the lectern's exterior for a graceful, flowing look. With 11 available standard veneer finishes as well custom finishing, matching or accenting existing décor presents no problems. An oversize work surface offers room to spare for a monitor, laptop, and presentation materials. Four built-in casters allow for easy positioning.
Woerner/Morgan Acrylic Pulpit ChurchPartner
Are you looking for an outstanding piece of acrylic sanctuary furniture at a very reasonable price? Look no further than the Woerner/Morgan acrylic pulpit from ChurchPartner. This piece is crafted from crystal clear half-inch acrylic chemically bonded for strength. The surface may be either acrylic or red oak available in one of 16 deep stain options. Other options include acrylic shelf and engraved cross. The engraving of your own logo or scripture verse is also an option. Why choose less quality when Woerner/Morgan offers the best at an excellent price? www.churchpartner.com
Imperial Woodworks is a top manufacturer of quality pulpits and chancel furnishings. Custom pulpits and chancel furnishings are their specialty. To meet the challenge of the diverse products used for worship today, Imperial offers traditional products, such as walk-in pulpits, to beautifully coordinate all the church furnishings. In addition, Imperial provides more modern products, such as Plexiglas and acrylic pulpits, along with more open, rounded designs of furniture to create a more contemporary feel to the worship setting.
AmpliVox Solid Hardwood Lecterns
The elegant and beautiful design of the Coventry Solid Hardwood Multimedia Lectern will harmonize with your decor while providing rich, room filling sound for your presentation needs. This lectern has built in slots for screens, DLP, projectors, a laptop drawer, racks and computer shelves inside. The Victoria Solid Hardwood Lectern enhances the beauty and warmth of your sanctuary with raised panels that give a traditional look to your any space. This lectern has excellent storage space and a drop-top desk for multimedia presentations. Both lecterns are available without sound, with a wired sound system, or wireless sound system.