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A late pulpit in a small church in , ,
A late 18th century pulpit in a small Roman Catholic church in Spielfeld , Styria, Austria

A pulpit (from Latin pulpitum "scaffold", "platform", "stage") is a small elevated platform where a member of the clergy stands in order to read the Gospel lesson and deliver a sermon.

In many Christian churches, there are two speakerís stands in 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 usually read from the pulpit, the pulpit side of the church is sometimes called the gospel side.

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 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 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. It is called the ambo. The word ambo comes from a Greek word meaning "both". In common usage, however, ambos are incorrectly called pulpits.

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

Last updated: 05-06-2005 07:16:38
Last updated: 05-13-2005 07:56:04