Until quite recently, there were no accurate timepieces, so worship services did not have a precise starting time. After the people gathered, the clergy and other ministers would enter the church in a procession to begin the service. This custom is still continued in most churches today, though in some churches it only survives in the wedding service. The first person in the procession is usually the crucifer, followed by other acolytes who light the candles and carry service books, then the choir, followed by lay ministers and then the clergy, with the highest ranking clergy last.
Strictly speaking, Protestants were those Roman Catholic clergy and lay people in and around the sixteenth century who sought to reform the Roman Catholic Church from within, but whose efforts were rewarded with excommunication. The term also applies to the churches they founded after they were cast out. General usage has expanded the term to include any western religious group that is not affiliated with the Roman Catholic Church.
In churches with a historic floor plan, there are two speaker’s stands in the front of the church. The one on the left (as viewed by the congregation) is called the pulpit. It is used by clergy to read the gospel and preach the sermon. Since the gospel lesson was usually read from the pulpit, the pulpit side of the church is called the gospel side.