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What is the church altar?

The History Of The Church Altar 

the church altar

The history of the church altar is deeply intertwined with the history of Christianity itself. The word “altar” comes from the Latin word “altare,” meaning “high place.” In its simplest form, an altar is a raised structure used for religious rituals and offerings. Throughout history, altars have evolved in design, purpose, and significance within Christian worship, as well as other custom church furniture pieces.

Early Christian altars were often simple tables or raised platforms used for the Eucharist or Communion, the central act of Christian worship involving the sharing of bread and wine as symbols of Christ’s body and blood. In the early centuries of Christianity, gatherings for worship often took place in private homes rather than dedicated church buildings. In these settings, church altars were basic and functional.

As Christianity became more established and churches were constructed, altars began to take on a more central and symbolic role. By the Middle Ages, church altars were typically made of stone and were often positioned against the east wall of the church, symbolizing the rising sun and the direction from which Christians believed Christ would return. These altars were often elaborate and adorned with carvings, paintings, and decorations.

During the Reformation in the 16th century, different branches of Christianity had varying views on the significance and design of altars. Protestant denominations, for example, tended to favor simpler altars, focusing more on the preaching of the Word than on the ritual of the Eucharist.

In the 20th and 21st centuries, there has been a wide range of styles and approaches to altar design within different Christian traditions. Some churches maintain traditional, ornate altars, while others have embraced more minimalist or modern designs.

Today, the church altar remains a focal point of Christian worship, serving as a sacred space for rituals, prayers, and the celebration of the Eucharist or other sacraments. Its design and significance often reflect the particular beliefs and practices of the Christian denomination or congregation using it.

altar rail

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What Is A Chancel Set 

A chancel set typically refers to a collection of furnishings or items used within the chancel area of a church. The chancel is the space around the altar, often separated from the rest of the church by steps, a railing, or some form of demarcation. It’s considered the most sacred part of the church, reserved for clergy and certain rituals.

A chancel set might include various elements used during worship services or rituals within this specific area. Some common items found in a chancel set include the church altar, pulpit, candles, cross, rails, furnishings, and seating.

The contents of a chancel set can vary significantly based on the denomination, tradition, or style of worship within a specific church or congregation. Some churches might have a more elaborate set with richly adorned furnishings, while others might adopt a more minimalist approach.

The chancel and its set of furnishings often reflect the theological beliefs and practices of the religious community and serve as a space dedicated to the sacred rituals and ceremonies of the Christian faith.

Where To Buy An Altar For My Church?

Kivett’s Fine Church Furniture has been handcrafting church altars in the US since 1958. Whether your a first time altar buyer or looking to upgrade your current one give us a contact us online or on the phone and we’d love to help you!

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