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Faith keeps him going

February 06, 2005|by PEPPER BALLARD

Editor's note: This is the first in a four-part series featuring blacks who are making a difference in their communities.




pepperb@herald-mail.com

HAGERSTOWN - He heard Drug Enforcement Administration officers whisper that he wasn't the right guy and he knew he shouldn't have had his car surrounded.

He should have been at a Rhode Island college delivering the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.'s famous "I Have a Dream" speech, but when Pastor Darin Mency was told to go about his business without an apology, Mency said he knew what he had to do.

When he arrived late at Providence College in 1991 to deliver the speech he has delivered hundreds of times over the past 20 years, a shaken Mency, who is pastor at Ekklesia Ministries in Hagerstown, said he stood up and delivered his "most powerful" version of King's landmark oration.

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Mency, 39, who works in information technology at First Data Merchant Services by day and holds services with Ekklesia Ministries at the Martin Luther King Center gymnasium on Wednesdays and Sundays, said it is his faith that keeps him going.

He was awarded a Hagerstown YMCA Adult Black Achievers award last month. Mency said his congregation does charity work and has worked to clean up litter in the Jonathan Street area that surrounds the center. He delivers King's speech at various places, from the YMCA to Maryland Correctional Institution-Hagerstown, around Black History Month.

To Mency, Black History Month "means a time of reflection of past contributions, present contributions and future contributions. It's embracing history and, not being trapped by understanding it, but acknowledging it."

By delivering King's speech, which he never has recited with the assistance of a script, Mency said, "I feel like I am honoring Dr. King, but I am doing the Lord's work. As King was used as a vessel, I feel I am used as a vessel."

Ekklesia Ministries, a nondenominational church with "a Pentecostal flavor," has only about 45 members in its third year of existence, but it's growing. Mency said he hopes it will grow into a multicultural church.

Mency had been assistant pastor of the Greater Campher Temple before developing Ekklesia Ministries.

"We can be different, but we can worship together," he said.

Mency hopes to see pastors of churches in the Jonathan Street community come together and work together on projects in the neighborhood.

"I would like to see us come together," he said. "It doesn't matter what church you belong to. A quality life is having the Lord in your life. It's a life I believe more people should have."

Mency, who graduated in 1988 from Full Gospel Bible Institute in Massachusetts, said Ekklesia means the "called-out ones," and he feels that he has been called upon to do what he does.

Mency lives in Hagerstown with his wife, Helen, and his two children, Darin, 15, and Kiona, 9.

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