Historically, that portion of the church or sanctuary which was reserved for the clergy. Often it was set apart from the rest of the church by lattices or crossbars. The Latin word for this screen is cancelli, from which chancel is derived. In modern usage the word chancel refers to the area around the Lord's table or communion table. In United Methodist churches the chancel is generally raised and includes the area in which the communion table, pulpit, and lectern are found. The organ console and choir seating also are often in this area. Usually the chancel is set apart from the remainder of the room by a low railing.
Source: A Dictionary for United Methodists, Alan K. Waltz, Copyright 1991, Abingdon Press. Used by permission.