Hometown Hero: Michael Heckmann

Michael Heckmann uses a unique acronym to describe his life as a peacemaker whose mission is prayer. The acronym is PEACE: Prayer, equipping, advancement, compassion and elevation. Michael has used this model in his professional life, which has had many facets, but mainly focused on the non-profit world. He has done direct service work, vocational ministry work, philanthropy work for a foundation, higher education and is currently self-employed, doing some development work, helping nonprofit organizations seek grant funding.

When asked when he realized that faith should be part of everyday work Michael says “my faith has always been a very integral part of my life that I carried into my professional life. When things really hit home for me, though, in a new way was when I was working in a service organization and I felt this vacancy, or this hole. It wasn’t quite like the God sized hole that people reference. There was just that tension that I felt around something not fully clicking the right way.” He enrolled in seminary, hoping that pursuing a master’s degree would provide some answers, but after a year he realized that it wasn’t the right fit.

He says, “I was only in seminary for a year before I chose to focus back on career. But during that time things that were happening regionally in Cincinnati with what was formerly known as the Church of Cincinnati really helped me to see that we’re called as believers to live our faith outside of the four walls. The Church of Cincinnati efforts: seeing how different congregations from across the region were coming together on these unified efforts helped to catalyze my thought process of it isn’t just within the four walls of the building where I attend on a weekly basis and serve on a weekly basis.”

He continues: “This is about getting out into the streets and having outreach and engaging in prayer with one another. That has become such a big piece of my life personally. We’re at work five, maybe six days a week. In America, that usually means you’re engaging with your coworkers more than you might be engaging with your family or close friends, at least face to face. And so what does it look like to be a witness and live out your faith to those people? I found that it’s been really an organic step. I’m a senior ordained senior chaplain with International Fellowship of Chaplains, and the ways in which I’ve practiced what they call the ministry of presence in the workplace has just been being a listening ear for people. I’m here to listen. I’m here to show the love of Christ to people, not necessarily in that traditional evangelistic sense. It’s more organic, doing life with one another. And it leads to the open door of being able to share my faith in an authentic way.”

Michael and his wife and children live in the metropolitan Atlanta area.