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What Is a Lectern Used for in a Church?

Updated February 21, 2017

A lectern is a reading stand traditionally used by lay preachers for prayer, speeches and sermons. Traditionally, it is placed on the right-hand side of the pulpit.

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Speakers and preachers place their notes on the lectern. Its platform base can usually be shortened or heightened for the speaker's convenience.


Lecterns can be made of wood, stone, marble, metal or even acrylic, the Lecterns And Podiums website notes. Lecterns may be portable or a permanent fixture. Some lecterns may have technological features, such as teleprompters.


According to the Rev. Ken Collins' website, "the word 'lectern' comes from the Latin word meaning 'to read,' because the lectern primarily functions as a reading stand." In some churches, the lectern and altar are combined into a single speaker's stand, known as an ambo, the Fish Eaters website notes.

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About the Author

Based in Belfast, Northern Ireland, Elizabeth Burns began writing professionally in 1988. She has worked as a feature writer for various Irish newspapers, including the "Irish News," "Belfast News Letter" and "Sunday Life." Burns has a Bachelor of Arts in English literature from the University of Ulster as well as a Master of Research in arts.

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