Oak church pulpit and side chairs
It was as if the furniture had been celestially placed. Earlier, I had ventured through the rooms at the auction house, admittedly not paying much attention to the furniture.
I try to eyeball everything in each room at the auction house because I never know what’s hiding where or stashed behind what. I had not seen the church pulpit and three side chairs until I was walking around aimlessley, wasting time while the items I wanted came up for auction in another space in seeing distance from where I stood.
The pieces were not exactly hidden, but they were cornered away from the main flow of foot traffic.
Now, they were in front of me: an oak pulpit with chairs cushioned in a light blue velvet. I could only assume that they had belonged to a church that was being remodeled and updated with a more modern and classy centerpiece for the pastor and guest ministers.
The furniture was pretty utilitarian, like the pieces you’d buy for that first apartment when you didn’t have much money.
This was not the first time I’d come across church furniture at auction. More than a year ago, another auction house sold two church pews, which were snapped up pretty quickly by one dealer for $110 each. Before then, another had sold a portable Catholic confessional. And at a house sale, a single pew was among the possessions assembled on the grounds.
The church furniture at this auction looked to be in pretty good condition, with some scratches on the wood of the pulpit itself and what looked like kitchen-drawer contact paper on a shelf in the back of it. It seemed to have been well-used but respected – as you’d expect – and the cushions were clean and well-cared-for.
These had been the center of attention in someone’s church, continuing a long tradition of furniture in the sanctuary. First, the Word was read before crowds from scrolls, and then scriptures were read and sermons preached from a table at the front of a meeting place called an ambo, according to the House Church Network Association website.
The Encyclopedia Brittanica website says the ambo was the forerunner of the pulpit. The Protestant Reformation of the 16th century, it seems, propelled the pulpit as a central part of the church and the biblical message, and the minister’s association with it.
At auction, I didn’t see a lot of people drop by to admire or talk about the pulpit and chairs. Usually something so unusual attracts comments from the curious among us. The pews sold at the earlier auction drew auction-goers who took a seat to rest their weary feet.
I wasn’t around when the furniture sold, but I’m sure someone snatched up all four pieces. On eBay, I found pulpit chairs going for about 50 bucks each, simple pulpits for $100 or more and elaborately designed ones for up to more than $1,000.
Outside a church, how would you decorate with a pulpit and chairs? Or would you?