Steward (Methodism)

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In Methodism, a steward is a member of a local congregation and district who is appointed by their pastor to help in the practical life of the church.[1] The position of stewards is a hallmark of classic Methodism.[2] Their duties include greeting all those who attend church upon their arrival, assisting in the distribution of Holy Communion (in which they are known as communion stewards), counting the tithes and offerings given to the church, and ensuring that the local preacher is cared for when he arrives to preach at a church.[3][4] This includes the steward providing a travelling local preacher with a meal at the steward's home after the service of worship as historic Methodism teaches Sunday Sabbatarianism, which prohibits dining at restaurants on the Lord's Day (cf. outward holiness).[3][5] Subsets of certain in some Methodist connexions, such as the Wesleyan Methodist Church, included Circuit Stewards, Society Stewards, Chapel Stewards, Poor Stewards, and Communion Stewards.[6] The 1908 Book of Discipline of the Methodist Episcopal Church provided the following standard to be used in appointing stewards, which continues to be found in the Book of Disciplines of certain successor connexions today: "Let the Stewards be persons of solid piety who are members of the Church in the Charge, who both know and love Methodist Doctrine and Discipline, and are of good natural and acquired abilities to transact the temporal business of the Church."[4][2] In the historic Methodist practice concerning church membership, probationers seeking full membership in their Methodist connexion, after their six-month proving period, sit before the Leaders and Stewards' Meeting of the local congregation, which consists of Class Leaders and Stewards, where they are to provide "satisfactory assurance both of the correctness of his faith and of his willingness to observe and keep the rules of the church."[7] Following this, the Leaders and Stewards' Meeting approves the probationer for full membership in the church.[7] This traditional practice of the Methodist Episcopal Church in admitting full members continues in many Methodist connexions today, such as the Lumber River Conference of the Holiness Methodist Church and the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church.[8][9]

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  1. ^ "The Stewards". Saint Paul African Methodist Episcopal Church. Retrieved 17 June 2021.
  2. ^ a b Frank, Thomas E. (1 April 2006). Polity, Practice, and the Mission of The United Methodist Church: 2006 Edition. Abingdon Press. p. 91. ISBN 978-1-4267-6357-1.
  3. ^ a b "What do church stewards do?". Methodist Church of Great Britain. Retrieved 17 June 2021.
  4. ^ a b The Doctrines and Discipline of the Methodist Episcopal Church. J. Emory and B. Waugh. 1908. p. 197-204.
  5. ^ "God is Not Mocked". Arkansas Methodist. 36 (29): 1, 3. 19 July 1917. In so far as the Master has given us an example the Sabbath may be used only for rest and the spiritual activities of worship (including teaching) and deeds of mercy. It is clear that be indulged in no service or pastime which required the labor of others. No one today with any sense of propriety can imagine Jesus going on Sunday excursions, patronizing restaurants and drink and cigar stands, or frequenting Sunday dances or games or shows. To think of Jesus as involved in these things is a practical profanation. The Master, who said, "Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest," added, "and ye shall find rest unto your souls." He knew the necessity for physical rest and the proper place for innocent recreation, but he valued soul rest yet more. Reasonable hours of labor and genuinely recuperative relaxation really have never existed apart from the Hebrew and the Christian religion. The rights of labor are not fully recognized where there is no Sabbath. Jesus intended to break the galling bonds with which man had desolated the holy Sabbath, but he proposed to restore it to its original use, not to sanction any sort of diversions which indulgent men might introduce to minister to their own "pleasure."
  6. ^ Tonks, David (13 March 2013). "Wesleyan Methodist Stewards". My Wesleyan Methodists. Retrieved 17 June 2021.
  7. ^ a b Scott, David W. (26 July 2016). Mission as Globalization: Methodists in Southeast Asia at the Turn of the Twentieth Century. Lexington Books. p. 65. ISBN 978-1-4985-2664-7.
  8. ^ Sanderson, Jimmy; Scott, Stanley; Hunt, Elton B.; Belcher, Dianne B.; Woods, James H. (2011). Doctrines and Discipline of the Lumber River Conference of the Holiness Methodist Church. pp. 17–18.
  9. ^ The Doctrine and Discipline of the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church. African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church. 2012. ISBN 978-1-4969-5704-7.

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