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In many Christian churches, there are two speakers who stand at the front of the church. Typically, the one on the left (as viewed by the congregation) is called the pulpit. Since the Gospel lesson is often read from the pulpit, the pulpit side of the church is sometimes called the gospel side. The Pulpit is in mainly cathedrals.

The other speaker's stand, usually on the right (as viewed by the congregation), is known as the lectern. The word lectern comes from the Latin word "lectus", past participle of legere, meaning "to read", because the lectern primarily functions as a reading stand. It is typically used by lay people to read the scripture lessons (except for the Gospel lesson), to lead the congregation in prayer, and to make announcements. Because the epistle lesson is usually read from the lectern, the lectern side of the church is sometimes called the epistle side. In other churches, the lectern, from which the Epistle is read, is located to the congregation's left and the pulpit, from which the sermon is delivered, is located on the right (the Gospel being read from either the center of the chancel or in front of the altar).


In some Protestant churches, the pulpit is considered the most important piece of furniture in the sanctuary. It is situated central to the congregation and raised. It is where the minister stands and may be decorated with a 'pulpit fall'- a piece of cloth that covers the top of the pulpit and hangs down the front. Flowers may also stand in front of the pulpit.

In the eighteenth century triple-decker pulpits were often introduced in English speaking countries. The three levels of lecterns were intended to show the relative importance of the readings delivered there. The bottom tier was for community announcements, the middle for the gospel, and the top tier was reserved for the delivery of the sermon.

In many Evangelical Christian churches, the pulpit stands squarely in the center of the platform, and is generally the largest piece of church furniture. This is to symbolize the proclamation of the Word of God as the central focus of the weekly service of worship. In more contemporary evangelical churches, the pulpit may be much smaller, if used at all, and is generally carried out after the end of the song service. However, it usually is placed in the center of the platform as well.

From the pulpit is often used metaphorically for something which is said with official church authority.


In churches where there is only one speaker's stand in the center of the front of the church, it serves the functions of both lectern and pulpit and is properly called the ambo. In common usage, however, ambos are incorrectly called pulpits.

The word ambo comes from a Greek word meaning an elevation. It was originally an elaborate raised platform in the middle of the nave from which the Epistle and Gospel would be read, and was occasionally used as a speaker's platform for homilies. It was joined to the sanctuary by a raised walkway called the soleas. In modern Eastern Christian use, this form of the ambo is now very rare. Instead, the area directly in front of the Beautiful Gates of the iconostasis from which the Gospel is typically read is called the ambo, and the entire low elevation above the level of the nave in front of the iconostasis is called the soleas. In larger churches, the ambo might be distinguished by three curved steps from which one might reach it from the nave.

In Eastern Orthodox cathedrals there is usually a low platform in the center of the nave called the episcopal ambo where the bishop is vested prior to the Divine Liturgy and where he is enthroned until the Little Entrance. If the bishop is serving in a simple parish church, an episcopal ambo is set temporarily in place.


Image:Siena.Duomo.pulpit02.jpg|Carved stone pulpit by Nicola Pisano inside Siena Cathedralmarker, ItalyImage:Bergatreute Pfarrkirche Kanzel 1.jpg|Late Baroque polychromed pulpit accessed from the balcony in the pilgrimage church of Ss. Philippus and Jakobus, Bergatreutemarker. (by Franz Schmuzer, originally made for the Klosterkirche Weingarten in 1718, and removed to Bergatreute in 1762.) Above, the dove of the Holy Spirit lends authenticity to the spoken word.Image:Pulpit.JPG|A late 18th century pulpit in a small Roman Catholic church in Spielfeldmarker, Styriamarker, Austriamarker.Image:AachenerDomKanzel.jpg|Pulpit from Henry II (1014) in the Aachen Cathedralmarker, GermanymarkerImage:Capistrankanzel Vienna.JPG|Outdoor pulpit of Giovanni da Capistrano, Viennamarker AustriamarkerImage:Enanger Pulpit.jpg|Pulpit at Enånger old church in SwedenmarkerImage:Santa Fiora sante Flora e Lucilla 006.JPG|Terracotta Pulpit at Pieve delle Sante Flora e Lucilla in Santa Fioramarker, ItalymarkerImage:Pistoia chiesa san bartolomeo in pantano 005.JPG|Stone pulpit at Chiesa Bartolomeo in Pantano Pistoiamarker ItalyImage:St John the Baptist church pulpit.JPG|Pulpit at St. John the Baptist Cathedral, Yaroslavlmarker, Russiamarker (17th century)Image:Worcester cathedral 019.JPG|Stone pulpit at Worcester cathedralmarker EnglandmarkerImage:Tallinn-Puhavaimu-indre-prædikestol1.jpg|Wooden pulpit at the Church of Holy Spirit in Tallinnmarker in EstoniamarkerImage:Wakken Sint-Pieter- en Sint-Catharinakerk int -14.JPG|Wooden pulpit in Wakken, Dentergem, BelgiummarkerImage:Pulpit at St Anne's Church in Kraków.jpg|Baroque pulpit in the Church of St. Anne in Krakówmarker, Polandmarker

Image:ChristianFlagEtc CovenantPresbyterianLongBeach20050213 CopyrightKaihsuTai.jpg|A modern pulpit on the chancel of a Presbyterian Church in CaliforniamarkerImage:Jakobskirken Roskilde Denmark pulpit.jpg|A modern pulpit in Jakobskirken, Roskilde, Denmarkmarker.Image:Preekstoel in de Sint Lambertus kerk Buren.JPG|A Calvinist 17th century pulpit of the Calvinist Dutch Reformed church in Buren, the Netherlandsmarker.File:Greifensee ZH - Gallus-Kapelle IMG 2432.jpg|Pulpit of the Gallus chapelmarker in Greifensee ZHmarker, SwitzerlandFile:Normandie Eure Evreux4 tango7174.jpg|Wooden pulpit of the Evreux Cathedralmarker, France (sculpted in 1675)File:Saint-Lô chaire exterieure.JPG|External gothic pulpit in Saint-Lômarker, FranceFile:Chaire Cathédrale d'Amiens 110608 01.jpg|Baroque pulpit in the Amiens Cathedralmarker, Francecool toilets

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