By Don Roth
Today’s choices in pulpits, podiums, and lecterns have expanded along with churches’ congregational styles, ranges of activities, types of facilities utilized – indoors and out, and, of course, budgets.
The once traditional stationary wooden pulpit, perched in front of and above the congregation, is now sometimes replaced by more sleek and stylish podiums or lecterns, made of traditional hardwood or beautiful veneers, or even acrylic models that convey contemporary elegance. Sometimes the podiums or lecterns are lightweight and moveable via hidden casters.
And, they’re often capable of handling today’s diverse multimedia needs, with built-in speakers and amplifiers, cable management and control panels for many of today’s multimedia tools such as computers and projectors.
More than just a platform for a pastor’s presence, today’s podiums have become the focal point for high quality amplified sound, visual presentations, choral direction, multimedia educational experiences, and more.
Traditional Hardwood Designs
Nothing beats traditional solid hardwood for elegance and durability. For a church that either doesn’t have the budget for a stationary, built-in pulpit, or wishes to provide more mobility for its pulpit, there are some outstanding options.
Such features as hidden locking casters, storage shelves and locking doors can be useful in making the pulpit a functional piece of furniture for many uses beyond religious services. Moreover, some units are available with built-in sound systems, including built-in speaker panels and amplifier/receivers that can receive and transmit signals from wired or wireless microphones.
One example of a high-quality solid hardwood podium which can be purchased with an optional built-in sound system is the AmpliVox Coventry Lectern. This unit’s 42-inch-wide profile provides plenty of room for multiple presenters standing side-by-side, and a spacious reading table and storage cabinet.
For those churches that prefer a more contemporary look for their podium or lectern, there are now options available that offer a wide range of materials, colors, and overall appearance.
One material that’s become very popular is laminate. A laminate is made of fiber board combined with melamine resin, resulting in a very durable material with a surface that can simulate the look of real wood – oak, cherry, mahogany, maple, etc.
Other materials used for today’s podiums and lecterns include metals, Formica, acrylic, and plastic. The AmpliVox Contemporary Lectern series features side posts of anodized aluminum, front panels made of Formica, and a reading table and base of scratch-resistant laminate. The rounded edges of this series, the curved front panels available on several units, the Formica and aluminum, along with available color combinations, create a very stylish yet contemporary look. Built-in sound systems are available on many lecterns with contemporary designs.
Acrylic lecterns are growing in popularity. One church that employs one – the Lutheran Church of the Holy Spirit in Lincolnshire, Illinois – chose it both for its contemporary elegance as well as its airy, open feel.
Lecterns made of acrylic material can be all acrylic, or a combination of acrylic and wood, aluminum, or other metal. Even though acrylic lecterns look light and spacious, they can be very durable, typically featuring 3/4” thick material on the base, and 1/2” material elsewhere.
One example of a plastic lectern is AmpliVox’s Pinnacle, constructed of hard shell plastic that is weatherproof (a great feature for outdoor use), and is virtually indestructible. The Pinnacle is also environmentally sound, made from 10% post-consumer waste, and being 100% recyclable.
In our technology-driven age, podiums and lecterns increasingly are being designed to accommodate all the necessary technology tools – speakers, receiver/amplifiers, monitors, laptops or tablets, projectors, reading lights, clocks & timers, data ports, outlet strips, etc. Some models have folding or sliding shelves to accommodate projectors, document cameras, and more.
The AmpliVox Oracle Podium series offers a model with a viewport monitor screen, allowing a computer monitor to be seen through a piece of glass built into the reading table. And, because a podium is often a “command center” for various audiovisual needs, control panels that can access all technology tools – even room lighting – are now increasingly built into the reading table so that the presenter has convenient access.
When selecting multimedia podiums and lecterns, some of the same choices in materials apply – solid hardwoods, hardwood veneers, laminates, and others.
Lecterns for Special Needs
With an eye to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), there are lecterns that can accommodate wheelchair-bound individuals. One example is the AmpliVox Sit-to-Stand Lectern. This multimedia model is wide enough to accommodate a wheelchair, and a built-in motor quickly raises the lectern from a sitting height of 31” to a standing height of “41. The unit has locking casters for easy movement, and can be customized with many multimedia options, including a built-in sound system.
For those churches that already have a pulpit or table and do not need a full-height lectern, many table-top models are available, featuring some of the same choices in materials and designs. These are convenient for carrying from room to room or off-site. AmpliVox even offers folding table-top lecterns, useful for a traveling pastor or presenter.
One of the most important types of customization available is adding a logo to a podium or lectern. Logos can often be applied in various ways – vinyl, acrylic, aluminum, bronze, with colors, raised lettering, etc. Customization is a way to proudly put a church’s special stamp of identity on a podium, reinforcing it at every service or event.
Other forms of customization apply to special colors and special features, such as adding rack rails inside the cabinet for the installation of the customer’s own equipment. AmpliVox Rack Cabinets are designed specifically for this purpose.
Today’s choices in podiums and lecterns are greater than ever before. Any church can find a model that fits their needs for functionality, décor, and budget.
Don Roth is chief executive officer of AmpliVox Sound Systems in Northbrook, Illinois. AmpliVox designs, manufactures, and sells top-quality portable PAs, megaphones, lecterns, and multimedia furniture, www.Ampli.com.