Sidney First Leadership Community
Reach … Deeper Into God, Further Out In His Love


The Sidney First Leadership Community will meet at the church on Saturday morning, January 29, 2001, from 8:30-10:30 a.m.

We hope you can join us!


The next Sidney First Leadership Community gathering has been scheduled for Saturday, December 4, 2010, at the church from 8:30 – 10:30 a.m. Please stay tuned for more details. Please come prepared to dream, vision, and focus. We hope to see you there!


We will not be having Leadership Community in October. Our next gathering will be November 21.


The September 26 Leadership Community gathering has been cancelled.


Due to an unexpected event, we will not be meeting in July. Our schedule for upcoming Leadership Community gatherings is as follows. All meetings will be form 8:30 – 10:30 a.m.

August 22

September 26

October 24

November 21

January 23, 2010

February 27, 2010

March 27, 2010

April 24, 2010

May 22, 2010


Our July Leadership Community gathering will be held on Saturday, July 11 at the church from 8:30 – 10:30 a.m. Included in the morning’s line-up will be some words from Dr. Chivington.

We do not plan to hold a meeting in August but will get started back up with monthly meetings in September.



The following greta article is by Rick Warren:

“But if we live in the light, as God is in the light, we can share fellowship with each other. Then the blood of Jesus, God’s Son, cleanses us from every sin. If we say we have no sin, we are fooling ourselves, and the truth is not in us” (1 John 1:7-8, NCV)

In Christian fellowship people should experience authenticity.

Authentic fellowship is not superficial, surface-level chit-chat. It’s genuine, heart-to-heart, sometimes gut-level sharing.

It happens when people get honest about who they are and what is happening in their lives. They share their hurts, reveal their feelings, confess their failures, disclose their doubts, admit their fears, acknowledge their weaknesses, and ask for help and prayer.

Authenticity is the exact opposite of what you find in many churches. Instead of an atmosphere of honesty and humility, there is pretending, role-playing, politicking, superficial politeness, and shallow conversation. People wear masks, keep their guard up, and act as if everything is rosy in their lives. These attitudes are the death of real friendship.

It’s only as we become open about our lives that we experience authentic fellowship. The Bible says, “If we live in the light, as God is in the light, we can share fellowship with each other … If we say we have no sin, we are fooling ourselves” (1 John 1:7-8, NCV)

The world thinks intimacy occurs in the dark, but God says it happens in the light. We tend to use darkness to hide our hurts, faults, fears, failures, and flaws. But in the light, we bring them all out into the open and admit who we really are.

Of course, being authentic requires both courage and humility. It means facing our fear of exposure, rejection, and being hurt again.

Why would anyone take such a risk?

Because it’s the only way to grow spiritually and be emotionally healthy. The Bible says, “Make this your common practice: Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you can live together whole and healed” (James 5:16, MSG)

Question: How can you try to cultivate more authentic friendships with your Christian brothers and sisters?


The following words of reflection on Chris Heckaman were given by Gary Mintchell at our May 16 Leadership Community gathering.

Reflecting upon Chris’s tenure at Sidney First, three points immediately came to mind. Just before he came, I was on some committees. I really had the intuition that people were so filled with the Spirit and that the Spirit wanted to be unleashed here in Sidney. But it seemed to be backed up somehow. When Chris came, perhaps even in his first day here, he just gave people permission to follow the Spirit’s lead. The outpouring of the fruits of the Spirit at Sidney First was awesome. New life was sparked almost from the beginning.

Anyone who has made a Holy Land trip with Chris knows the hard work he puts in organizing the experience. I, like many, have made the trip more than once. Not only do we learn about the geography and people which is a great aid to understanding the Bible, it also is a moving spiritual experience that deepens your faith and brings you closer to God. I know I speak for all who have made the trip to say “thank you” once again for leading those trips.

Chris always seems to speak directly to me with his messages. He challenges me to take my faith deeper every week. Because of him, my meditations have become more meaningful over time leading to some intense experiences of the Spirit. Thanks, Chris.


Another great GOD Story discussion from May 16 … by Kent Craver.

When Darlene first asked me about both of us speaking today, my first reaction was that this is something I am not at all comfortable with.

Then I remembered Frank Wallis’s words when he spoke….that it challenged him outside his comfort zone, and I knew I would have to try.

I can tell you now it has been difficult for me — talking is not a problem — but talking about anything personal is.

So— I hope you will forgive me for reading this— the preparation has brought back thoughts and emotions from the past… that I buried long ago.

My family did not belong to a church or go to church. From pre-school into high school, I went to church with friends, by their invitation.

I knew God in my mind but He was out there somewhere…I really had limited understanding of Jesus. It would be sometime before They were in my heart.

My Mother wanted baptism to wait until I could make the decision. So I was baptized and joined the Presbyterian Church in Martins Ferry Ohio at age 16. But… my life was no different after I was baptized than it had been before.

For most of my life, church was just what you did on Sunday, and my involvement on committees was just a church responsibility.

There was a lot of strife within my family in my teen years, and I chose alcohol as a way to deal with it.

I started drinking at the end of my junior year and that would continue for many years.

While alcohol never interfered with my job, my social drinking was excessive. I hurt and disappointed many people I cared for.

I knew I wanted to be married and have a family, but was not sure of my ability to be the responsible father I wanted to be.

At one point I prayed to God to bring the right Christian girl into my life. One that would be able to put up with me and see that our children were raised properly regardless of what I did or didn’t do.

It was not long after that when I saw Darlene with a group of girls and immediately felt sure she was the one.

That’s when our mutual friend assured me I would be wasting my time to try to date her. She didn’t date guys who drank.

As you can see by my bet with him, it was not a Christian plan…..

Our four years of dating had many ups and downs, but we seemed to know that marriage for us was the right thing.

Our married life has been somewhat the same – Good times and bad.

As our family grew, I felt a real need to be “successful” which meant moving up in the company, making money and impressing those who could help my cause.

I spent much time working and being involved in the communities in which we lived, which changed from time to time through transfers with the Company.

One late evening I came home to find Darlene really upset with me. Being fairly new in the neighborhood, a couple neighbors came over to welcome her to the neighborhood and were surprised to hear she had a husband, because they never saw a man around. They assumed she was a single parent.

But she was always supportive of our moves even though it meant she had to start over again.

We always prayed about each move… then left it in God’s hands.

One special occasion that stands out… I was called into the home office for an interview which meant a nice promotion if all went well. I felt scared and alone. As I unpacked the night before my interview, I found a note from Darlene. She said she was praying for me and no matter the outcome, she loved me and all would be fine.

It was hard to understand how we could share such love one moment and be at such odds at other times.

Even though I had been actively involved in church for many years and knew that God was always in my life, I didn’t understand the real meaning of being a “Christian” until after our move to Sidney.

God has placed me on a journey at Sidney First… with close relationships within our church family, Emmaus walk, small group involvement, bible studies and share groups that helped me form a new understanding of “church”. Looking back, I realize He has been working on me …. Waiting for me to come around.

As I stated earlier, God was in my life but it was more about me than Him. I made decisions and then prayed for God to bless them.

It has only been in the past 6 to 8 years, under Chris’ leadership, love, understanding, and support, that I have come to know Jesus as my personal savior. To know God’s direction through the Holy Spirit in every part of my life…… renewed every day.

For me (like Darlene) our trip to the Holy Land in 2006 was a changing point in our relationship. The Wedding church at Cana represented a new beginning…….placing all our past hurts behind us. It was so moving for me, I could hardly get the words out for the tears….which is not like me. (Darlene added that!).

Pouring out my sins to God and asking for His forgiveness at the Garden of Gethsemane was very special. God was definitely there. I could actually feel the change in me.

For most of my life I thought of myself as a good person and a “Christian”. But I was comparing myself to the world. When I finally used Jesus as my guide, I saw things much differently.

I’m still a work in process, but have found a peace and comfort, especially in our marriage, that I have never known before.

Looking back on our relationship, we knew we loved one another, but for many reasons struggled. When we decided to just trust God to control our marriage, our problems seemed to diminish.

In closing, I want to say thank you to each of you…. You have been a blessing and inspiration to me.

Most of all, I want to thank God for answering my prayer….placing that right Christian girl in my life!


We were blessed with the following “SOUL Discussion” by Darlene Craver during our May 16 gathering:

I’ll begin by saying when Todd emailed me and asked if Kent and I would share our “faith” or “soul” story as a couple or individually, the “couple” thing stood out! I don’t think we’ve had a ‘couple’ share yet at leadership. And since our wedding anniversary was last Tuesday, I thought that perhaps we should share a little how Jesus has worked in our marriage – Marriage being a “couple” thing.

When we each started to jot down some thoughts, we both realized it was hard to share in the couple mode, it all came down to the individual in each of us. So we’re each going to share a little of where we were when we met…then a little on where we are today.

I grew up in a non Christian home. But Grandma, my Dad’s Mom, lived close by and she got me started in the little Methodist church in the country. I was baptized when I was 12, invited Jesus into my life and He filled my heart when I was 16. By this time, I belonged to a larger Methodist church in town. I was very much influenced at Camp Bethesda, the Methodist church camp, similar to Tar Hollow, and our deaconess, Tommy Casky, who was our youth leader.

I knew that if I ever got married someday, he had to be Christian and go to church with me. I knew Kent vaguely through friends and started dating him when I was 19, after he attended a week long “old fashion” revival we had at the church. I was in the choir and saw him sitting out there every night with a mutual friend of ours. He asked me out the last night of the revival, we dated about 4 years, and then got married… I found out after I was “hooked” that our mutual friend said that I would never date someone like him, so Kent bet him a case of beer that I would. (And I Did!)

Sometime during our 4 years of dating, both our families broke apart. When we did marry, we promised each other that, with God’s help, we would always be together.

Looking back over our 47 years of marriage, I can definitely see where God intervened in our lives – many times, in a jolting way, to make sure we stuck to that promise! Seems like when we were first married, Ann Landers kept me in place.. with her advice in the newspaper…when she said, “You have to ask yourself, are you better off with him or without him”! But the Lord made it clear to me; I could never image living without him – Although I can remember a couple of times, when I thought long and hard about it!

We have lots of friends who are divorced, remarried, etc., and I would guess we’re not the only long term couple who had to stop and… re think.. Ann Landers… or who have come pretty close to breaking up a time or two. But whenever we were close to calling a divorce attorney, God always stepped in and took our lives… out of our control….

In 1974, He moved us to Sidney, the other side of the state, away from old friends, bad influence, etc.; He forced us to realize we needed each other almost as much as we needed Him. We had no friends and no family here, so we grew closer to each other.

Then about 10 years later in 1983, I started moving up in the bank, my career became so important to me, it was straining our relationship. Then…. I got colon cancer. I had surgery and 1 year of chemo… The oncologist said the cancer would return someplace else in my body within 16 months.

I’m convinced God let this happen, and through it, He blessed me.
I was not afraid to die, because I always knew Jesus would be there to meet me…… but…He not only made me well, he gave me an entirely different outlook on life.

It was a bad year and Kent was by my side all the way…. I’m sure it was worse for him than for me. I remember once, saying to him, boy our bathroom seems to stay cleaner longer…. He said, that’s because I’ve been cleaning it! I was too sick most of the time to even appreciate what he was going through.

Around 1994, we got really careless again…. It was a hard couple of years. We knew we had to do “something” if we were to stay together. It so happened one day, I was opening a new account for someone new to town, I think he was a doctor or something…. Something made me ask him, a complete stranger, if he knew of a “Christian” marriage counselor, preferably out of town. You don’t necessarily want folks you see all the time to know you’re having trouble. He just happened to recommend a fellow at Cedarville College. Dr. Dolph was another blessing! Not to mention the hour and a half drive down there and back which forced us to talk to each other!

We learned to forgive and realize that our love for each other was still alive, in our love for Jesus.

Then in March, 2006, He instilled a desire in our hearts to go to the Holy Land (we never before gave it a passing thought). That trip was packed full of blessings….. which would take me forever to tell you about, But the one blessing that stands out the most was through Chris…when we were in Cana, at the Wedding Church where Jesus preformed his first recorded miracle.
I don’t think I’ve told Chris how important it was to us, as a couple, when he had Kent kneel in front of me, and had him repeat his vows to me (actually, I think everyone did the same, but I was unaware of anyone else). It was as if we were married for the first time….. All the past wrongs we did to each other were wiped away and we were starting fresh….. Pure to Him… and pure to each other.

We are closer now than we have ever been… we hardly ever argue except maybe when his sugar is out of whack! (Kidding hon.) He’s learned to be more tolerant with me and my projects, etc., He’s a true joy to live with.

It probably helps… knowing we don’t have to worry about money, and the kids are grown and on their own! But it scares me to think where we would be today if God had not grabbed hold of us at all the right times! We wouldn’t be here, now….. happy in each other.

I’ll let you know if we make it to the Big five O!!… ….. he’s considering retiring…Then I don’t know what will happen…..

Heaven help us! ……AGAIN….