As my regular readers know, I am keen to find solutions for unusual churchly needs, and will gladly use a "secular" resource. (Such as the time I pointed out an IKEA candle holder as a better-than-average flaming chalice base.)
Hubby and I were at Target yesterday in a failed quest to find new chairs. (We took the subway, so we couldn't have gotten all four we want anyway. In an unrelated note, I did buy a nice new LCD monitor at Circuit City.)
There I saw the answer to a problem few have and even fewer have written about: a folding pulpit or reading desk for congregations that rent Sunday space in a non-church facility. Unitarian Universalists don't worship at the Y as much as in the 60s, and so a lot of tricks to make such a space work are probably lost.
I had been thinking the solution might lay in the modification of the kind of folding bookcase so many of us had in our youth, but most are so short that it would be impractical. Then, at Target, I saw this well-made and tall folding bookcase.
OK, follow me here. Imagine the front of the bookcase as the back of the pulpit. Put a long strip of velcro across the top of the back of the bookcase (the front of the pulpit). The other part of the velcro could be sewn to a pulpit fall (drape) to fill in the shape.
Here's the part that would take a woodworker. Imagine a collapsible table lectern. The kind with two triangular "wings" that form the sides and two rectangular parts in the middle which form the front and reading platform respectively. If the base of the triangular sides had properly shaped legs then the whole thing could straddle the top of the sides the bookcase like a saddle. (It could also cover place where the pulpit fall is attached by velcro.)
The whole thing could be carried by one person, and could fit in a shallow closet. It would be easy to set up, and there would be a place to store a manuscript, hymnal, matches, a glass of water, and perhaps the accoutrement of a traveling preacher. (None of which is true for the usual college-style pedestal lectern a lot of churches use.)
If you like that, then see this instruction for setting up a saw-horse altar (from the Antiochian Church's "we're going to draw away your conservative Episcopalians" mission; oops, sorry, now I can't find that link) and this collapsing baptistery for missions (you can check it as luggage for your flight to convert the heathen!) and this combo altar-baptistery for prisons.
I also wrote about the Lee-style aluminum folding altar, as used in the US Army back when this blog was young.