Church: altar/communion table, font/baptistery, pulpit, lectern, cross, crucifix
Public and private worship: Eucharist/holy communion/mass; Sunday and daily worship, private devotion. Role and significance of bishop, priest/vicar/minister.

People will commonly agree that Christians worship in the church. However they are different buildings Christians worship in together. They include church, chapel, meeting house, citadel, cathedral, minster, abbey, monastery, priory. Irrespective of the name given to these places of worship, they all serve the same purpose – providing Christians where they could worship.

Usually, traditional churches are designed in the shape of a cross.They take the form of a simple rectangle. The earliest form these houses were called titulae. However churches found today are built in two styles.

The BASILICA style: a long building with a door at one end and an altar at the other, and a shape with a dome at the center of a particular or polygon shaped building.

The circular style which is also called Rotunda (latin)

Many churches have transepts which are extra spaces at right angles to the main building of the church.  There are always shorter than the main building and form traditional Latin cross shape or can be equal to the main part like the Greek cross.

Traditionally churches face east towards Jerusalem. This implies that the altar is placed at the eastern end of the church.The altar is located in the part of the church called the sanctuary which is usually separated from other part of the church by a rail called the communion rail.

The part of the church which leads from the sanctuary to the transepts where you will normally find the choir is called chancel.There are often called ‘weeping chancels’ because they represent the position of Jesus’ head when he was on the cross.

At the entrance to the chancel there is sometimes a screen called rood screen which is derived from an old English word meaning cross.

The largest part of the church where the congregation sit is regarded as the nave culled from the Latin word navis meaning ship.

Often the church’s main door is at the far west and the baptistery is also found there.Basically it is used for baptism.It contains the font. The font contains the water for baptism.It is located at the west end of the church so that when children or adults come for baptism, the ceremony takes place at the end of the church. Then they are now welcome in as church members.

Some churches have towers or steeples. The church bells are found there. They used to remind people when the time for service is at hand.It marks period of celebration – festivals, marriages and sometimes funerals/mourning periods.

Churches can be found virtually anywhere in a community.Churches especially the older ones have interesting features which may not be found in some modern churches. They generally play an important part in their worship.They include stained glasses: sometimes they may look decorative but originally were meant to tell stories from the bible and lives of Christian saints. This was so because in the Middle Ages, most people couldn’t read so the window decoration remind them of stories and teachings built around Christian faith.

Also the inside walls of churches were also painted.The nave which is the center of the church has pews – wooden benches with backs for people to sit on.Sometimes in the chancel, there is organ which backs up music services.

At the front of the nave is the pulpit. Originally it was called ‘platform’. It is a raised place where the minister, priest, deacon stands to preach their sermon.They usually have flight of steps which raises the preacher above the nave so that everybody can see him/her.

At the opposite side of the pulpit is the lectern – simply a stand from which the bible is read.Traditionally and for hundreds of years, the altar is placed at the Far East end of the church. The priest usually backs the people and faces God.

Presently the altar has been removed from the eastern wall so that the priest can face the people. The area around the altar is called the sanctuary.Altars can be made of stone, wood, marble. It is covered with a colored cloth which indicates the season of the church.

Altars may have large candlesticks on it which are usually lit during services.In the past they provide light but presently, they serve as a reminder that Jesus is the ‘Light of the World’.

In the wall behind the altar or slightly to the side is a small box called a tabernacle. In it is kept the consecrated bread after the Eucharist.It can be taken by the priest to anyone who is sick and unable to attend church.In some cases it hangs over the altar and is called a pyx.There is always a light burning by its side showing that the consecrated bread is inside

A church may have several altars.Churches that have transepts tend to have altars attached to it. If such is the case, the main altar is called the High Altar.

Every church is dedicated to a biblical person or saint while the side altars may be after other saints or sometimes events in the life of Jesus.Roman Catholic churches especially have statues of the saints around the church and people light votive candles and place them in front of the statues asking the particular saint to intercede for them.

Around the church’s wall is the 14 Stations of the Cross. This was developed by the Franciscans when they were given custody of Jerusalem in the 1300s.They did it so that pilgrims could pray along the Via Dolorosa (way of sorrow) following Jesus’ step. During lent, people walk from one station to another, stopping and praying at each one. However protestant churches tend not to have statues or images in them.They believe it goes contrary to the 1st law of the Ten Commandments.

They simply have an altar and font. The altar placement is not giving much importance unlike the Catholics. The pulpit is just the central of the building.

And in Baptist churches there are large tank under the floor at the front of the altar. They believe in total immersion under the water during baptism.In the nave special seats are reserved for the old or sick.At the front of the nave is the iconostasis – a screen covered in icons/pictures of the saints.

At the center of the iconostasis is the Royal Doors which are opened during part of the liturgy. In front of the door is small elevated platform called Amvon/ambo on which the priest stands.Behind the door is the sanctuary. Therein is the altar, where the Liturgy is celebrated

The simplest of all worship places for Christian is the MEETING HOUSE.It is a plain room without any decoration with rows of chairs and table. Christian places of worship vary with a lot of factors contributing to their differences.

The buildings and their designs plus its furnishings have developed over time to suit the needs of worshipers. To some, elaborate environment with statues may help them concentrate while worshiping, while others see it as a distraction. They prefer a simple place where they can sit and pray.However the essence Christian places of worship are erected with the sole purpose of praising God; a place where they can come together and worship Him.


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