Passing of the Towel, Basin, and Mantle Marks Ordination Ceremony

June 15, 2023

In a solemn and symbolic gesture, the Passing of the Towel, Basin, and Mantle took place during the 2023 Celebration of Ministry service at First United Methodist Church in Baton Rouge. 

This service signifies the transfer of responsibility, wisdom, and anointing from retiring clergy to newly ordained clergypersons. The service, led by Bishop Delores J. Williamston, emphasized the significance of shepherding God's people and nurturing new leaders for the mission of God.

Bishop Williamston, addressing the congregation, highlighted the biblical examples of mentoring and equipping new leaders found in Scripture. From Moses and Joshua to Jesus and his disciples, the passing of the torch from one generation to the next has been a cherished tradition. She reminded the newly ordained clergypersons that they are "now called to be the light of the world, shining with the good works that bring glory to God."

As the retiring clergyperson, Rev. Tracy MacKenzie, presented the towel and basin, symbols of servant ministry, she expressed faith in God's unwavering love. The passing of these symbols into the waiting hands of the newly ordained clergypersons represented the transfer of the sacred duty of proclaiming the Word of God and leading God's people to lives of service in the world. Rev. MacKenzie encouraged the newly ordained to "remain faithful, devoted, and steadfast in their calling."

Responding, Rev. Latrice Mallard, a newly ordained deacon, gladly accepted the towel and basin, recognizing the weight of the service to which she and her fellow newly ordained deacons were called. They pledged to honor the foundations laid by their predecessors and faithfully continue the ministry of calling the church to faithful discipleship as followers of Jesus Christ.

Following this exchange, Rev. Tracy MacKenzie presented the mantle, symbolizing the passing of the anointing and empowering presence of the Holy Spirit. She assured the newly ordained clergypersons that they had been called, nurtured, and equipped by the same Spirit, just as their predecessors were. She urged them to go forth in the power of Christ, proclaiming the mighty acts of God and shining His light in a darkened world.

Expressing gratitude, Rev. Latrice Mallard received the mantle, embracing the responsibility it represented. They offered prayers for the Holy Spirit to ignite the gift of God within them through the laying on of hands, enabling them to serve with power, love, and self-discipline.

In response, Bishop Williamston invoked the words of St. Paul, urging the newly ordained clergypersons to lead lives worthy of their calling, characterized by humility, gentleness, patience, and love. She emphasized the unity of the Spirit and the shared faith, baptism, and hope that binds them together as they embark on their ministry journey.

The Passing of the Towel, Basin, and Mantle continues to serve as a significant moment in the ordination ceremony, symbolizing the continuation of God's work through successive generations of clergy. It underscores the importance of mentorship, nurturing, and passing on the call to serve God's people faithfully. 
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