These were appointed by John Wesley (and later by the Superintendents) to manage the temporal affairs of each Society, though after his death the societies were consulted about the choice. Most societies had two stewards and Wesley insisted that one should be changed each year. They received the weekly 'class pennies' from the class leaders, dealt with the running expenses of the society and were its representatives at the Circuit Quarterly Meeting. If they noted anything amiss in the itinerants' doctrine or life, it was their responsibility to say so. Alexander Kilham argued that every society should choose its own leaders and stewards, and this became the practice in the non-Wesleyan branches of Methodism.
Now called 'Church Stewards', their duty is to exercise corporate leadership and responsibility with the minister for the life and activities of the local church. They have specific duties in connection with the weekly services and the offertory.