Hanwell Methodist Church
Composed and designed by Ray Garnett
Our Church Stewards are elected each year by our congregation
at our Annual General Meeting. Normally a steward will be in
office for 6 years and then have to step down. Our current
Church Stewards are listed below and all offer you a very warm
welcome to the services at our Church. Our Stewards on duty
at each service usually wear a "Steward" badge to help you
identify them but most people who come to our Church would
know who to point you to if you wished to introduce yourself or
speak to one of them.
Our current list of Church Stewards consists of Chris Rawlings, George Lafford, Marion Garnett, Michael Pidoux and Rita Mac Murray. Our Senior Church Steward position is held by Marion.
The Church is also fortunate in that one of its members, David Street, is a Local Preacher and the Church has two Worship Leaders, Cynthia Grant and Ray Garnett.
Church Steward Duties
Stewards in the Methodist Church are elected from the Congregation to serve for six years and ‘have responsibility for the full scope of the Church's life and activities. If that sounds daunting, it needn’t be.
It is a responsibility, but one that is shared with the other Stewards and with the Minister. Decisions on finance and other matters essential to the running of the Church are taken by committees and Church Council rather than the Stewards.
My view, and this is what a Minister once told me, has always been that you can sum it up in five words: ‘Make sure a service happens’. This means contacting the Preacher in the week before a Service to find out what readings are needed, and finding people to do them (with answering machines leaving you unsure whether you might expect someone to say ‘yes’ and a smallish pool of willing readers, this is probably the hardest part of the job!)
The only time ‘making a service happens’ becomes a problem is when a Preacher fails to turn up – if this has happened at all in our 25 years or so at Hanwell, it can have been only once. What you then have to do is explain, and then do something appropriate – there are ways of doing this, and The Methodist Worship Book would be a useful starting point, perhaps using as an outline one of the services.
The book of Wesley’s Sermons is also available if a talk were felt necessary. As I say, it’s rarely if ever needed.
What is needed, each week, is a routine that is easy to carry out. The First Steward contacts the Preacher during the week to find out what hymns and readings are needed, and if there are any special requirements – sometimes people are needed for a playlet or a particular item of furniture might be asked for or pencil and paper for members of the congregation. The hymns are sent to our organist, who will let you know if there is anything unusual – like ‘which tune does the Preacher want?’ The Stewards are responsible for putting the hymn numbers up, but we are blessed at Hanwell by having an audio visual technician, who usually does this and prepares any projector work (again, easier if you email her the details in advance!).
If the Preacher is not a familiar face, he or she may need to know about the regular order of things, such as when the Young People join us and what to do at the end of the Service – we have done a standard letter for first-time Preachers at Hanwell. You can also visit our Notes for Preachers web page which gives lots of details.
Also during the week before the service, the First Steward finds two readers (sometimes three) and this, as I said, can be a problem. You can leave four or five phone messages and get no readers or, having prevailed on someone in the family to do it instead, suddenly you get five readers phoning back and offering their services! But it always works out.
On the Sunday, the first steward opens up
normally at around 10:15am – but, again, our
technical person is usually already there.
There are small but important things to do,
including making sure the glasses of water are
out, and ensuring those in charge of hymn
books know which books are needed.
The second steward is usually there by 10:30am
to help out.
It is the Stewards’ job to welcome people into Church, although in most places, as at Hanwell, there is usually a welcome rota instead. The Stewards do welcome the Preacher and bring her or him into the relative peace of the Vestry to prepare, and they make sure everything necessary is done, including giving the Preacher the names of the readers and any special prayer requests.
What is discussed and done will vary according to how familiar the Celebrant is with the Church. However experienced, any Preacher may be nervous – I remember many years ago discussing this with an older and regular visiting Minister, who said that he was always terribly apprehensive (but it never showed, as far as I could see.) So a reassuring smile and a confident air can help to calm down the inner excited feelings.
The Second Steward delivers a short Vestry Prayer – there is a book of suggestions but any few prayerful words will be appropriate. Then it is out into the Church for the Service, before which our custom is for the First Steward to introduce the Preacher, even if it is our own Minister, if that is what suits the order of the Service and has been agreed. At the end, the First Steward joins the Preacher in the Centenary Room to say goodbyes and number two locks the collection away temporarily. Both then join the Congregation, making sure that the Preacher is not monopolised in conversation with anyone! When appropriate they retire to count the collection before making sure that the building is tidy on leaving.
The rules probably require them to turn all the lights off and lock up, but our Pentecostal friends normally follow us, so the premises can be safely handed over to them.
All of this would be for nothing if the Stewards did not discharge their continuing duty – that of maintaining and growing the unity of the communion and promoting the life of the Church. They are a major part of the link to the Synod and the Connexion and are responsible for ensuring that any new policies or guidance are understood by the Congregation. They are automatic members of Church Council and thus play a significant role with the Minister in the running of the Church.
It is an important job but one which, entered into whole-heartedly, can be immensely rewarding.
Our Church also has a set of Communion Stewards. These are members of the congregation who help to organise and assist in the administration of Holy Communion. It is a totally different job to that of the Church Stewards.
The rota duties for both our Church Stewards and our Communion Stewards are listed on the Church Rotas page of our website.
Meet Our Church Stewards
Notes for Preachers
If you are a visiting Preacher or Worship Leader and are leading one of our services, and you are not familiar with our Church, then we recommend that you take at look at our at the Notes for Preachers page.
Don’t forget that we serve coffee and tea with biscuits after our Sunday morning services. You are most welcome to join us, introduce yourself and have a chat with us. Usually on the first Sunday of the month we also have a homemade cake stall.
|Notes for preachers|
|Pause for Thought|