Mecklenburg Ministries will officially change its name in 2015 to MeckMin, the organization’s longtime nickname.
The nickname has been used almost since its founding in 1987, but the nonprofit agency’s mission in the community has evolved, said Danny Trapp, the executive director who has led MeckMin for a year.
Now, the “Min” in MeckMin can stand for “Mecklenburg Interfaith Network,” Trapp said.
“It allows us to look to the future while still giving a nod to our past,” he said. “We’re embracing what we’ve evolved into.”
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MeckMin was started by a group of faith leaders looking to address needs in the community such as lack of housing and good education for underprivileged people.
Groups such as Urban Ministries and Charlotte Rescue Mission were formed after MeckMin, and Trapp said the landscape of social justice ministries has become extremely crowded.
As other organizations took on social issues, MeckMin grew into a community leader in promoting interfaith dialogue by encouraging people from different faith backgrounds to get to know each other and talk about important issues.
MeckMin’s has 100 houses of faith as members, and at least 12 religious traditions are represented. Trapp said for many, the word “ministry” still implies Christian work. Leaders of some groups, which include Muslim, Jewish, Hindu and Baha’i congregations, have lived with the name Mecklenburg Ministries for years but never felt completely comfortable, Trapp said.
The group’s board of directors, which includes people representing many faiths, approved the new name and a new logo, which MeckMin will begin using in 2015.
“I don’t see this as an official name change as much as an affirmation of how the community has thought of us for years,” board member Ken Garfield wrote in an email. “A more concise name and a cleaner, clearer logo are important. But what’s most important is bringing a fresh infusion of energy and passion to the interfaith work we do, and to the cause of interfaith cooperation that we’ve always been about.
“My goal is for people to say or hear MeckMin and immediately think, ‘That’s that group that wants us all to respect each other, and serve God together.’”
The new name will come with some changes in MeckMin’s work in the community.
MeckMin has long honored organized groups that brought people of different faiths together for discussion, sometimes following difficult circumstances such as 9/11. MeckMin also oversees the annual community Thanksgiving service, which draws more than 1,500 people from many faith backgrounds.
Now, MeckMin also will expand its focus to include more smaller events.
“Now, we’ll have a plethora of events to plug into,” Trapp said.
Those events will include weekly noontime meditations, book discussion groups and work with Habitat for Humanity’s Rehabitat program.
Board member Mary Thomas, cantor at Temple Beth-El, headed the rebranding task force for MeckMin. She wrote in an email that the community already knows MeckMin and what the organization does.
“When and how thoroughly people internalize the ‘interfaith network’ piece has a lot to do with how the organization carries on going forward,” she wrote.
“If we talk about MeckMin as a network, truly devote the institutional energy to knitting relationships between our congregations and constituents, and grow the way that we fortify these relationships, it will be successful.”
Since the name has been used for so long, MeckMin leaders hope the transition will be natural for the community.
“I love the concept, and think it will help MeckMin further its mission,” said Russ Dean, former MeckMin board president and co-pastor of Park Road Baptist Church. “People know MeckMin already, and the associated acronym is exactly who (and) what MeckMin is.”