March Monthly Pulse Newsletter
A Message from Pastor Coqui

Dear Church,

You have probably begun to notice the longer days and the morning bird calls that sound like spring is really coming. That’s what we hope for! Our faith grows so much in the space of hope and renewal.

Our lives have been enormously impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic for the last year. I remember travelling to see my parents in early March 2020 just as we started to really hear about this new virus that was make itself apparent in the United States. If someone wore a mask, I thought they must be ill. A week later, when I returned, cautious and aware people were wearing masks and even full raingear in order to keep the virus away. The very next Sunday, March 15, was the last Sunday we had worship in the sanctuary. Schools were closed. We’ve learned to wear masks when we go out. We’ve learned to create “pods” of family or friends in order to have some community while remaining safe. Some of us have been able to get the vaccine that we all hope will make it possible for us to live differently with any residual virus there might be.

I don’t know about you, but my hopefulness is tinged with a bit of anxiety about what next. Will the newer variants of Coronavirus change our lives as much? Who are we as Associated Church in 2021 both as people who participate in church activities and in our mission and ministry? What next?

I know that we’ve learned quite a bit about creating a virtual worship service. We’ve grown our ability to do this well. I expect us to continue to have a virtual presence long into the future. I hope that this will be worship, and I hope we can expand the ways we connect with people through all the tools we have available. I can’t thank Tyler enough for his contribution to our growing expertise in this area.

The Council and other leaders in the church will be intently considering questions about who we are as church and how we can best serve our Owatonna and global community. This includes struggling with questions identifying our core values at this stage in the congregation’s life. Please hold all of us in your prayers as we examine what God is calling us to be and do now as followers of Christ.

A few personal notes. My ankle is healing quite well. I look forward to walks in the woods. I have been working with the Owatonna/Steele County Housing Institute to lead efforts around generating more affordable housing. I have been asked to serve on the Board of Directors for Transitional Housing and begin those responsibilities in March. I have taken the opportunity offered by the Owatonna School District to participate in Courageous Conversations for Community Leaders which focus on anti-racism. I believe I can serve the congregation better as someone involved in the community. Both housing and anti-racism are important issues that we can continue to be involved with.

I look forward to a time in the near future when we will be gathering in the sanctuary for worship. Our regathering will likely be as slow as our exit was fast. It will still be a bit before we can add the social components of our life together. This is something we can look forward to with hope.

Blessings,
Rev. Coqui Conkey
Lead Minister

507-413-7313
Moderator's Minute
Here are a few highlights from our last regular Council Meeting, held on February 22 via Zoom.

Return to Worship in the Sanctuary: Sharon Partridge presented the recommendations from the Re-Gathering Task Force which Council voted to approve. Beginning Feb 28th the service will be streamed live from the sanctuary with no members in the audience. Currently, much of the service has been prerecorded. March 7th will be a special Sunday reserved for those members who have not been able to watch the services on computers [invitations are forthcoming]. March 14th (return to daylight savings time) will be the first service open to all members [more info coming soon]. These services will be DIFFERENT with masks required, special seating arrangements to create social distancing, no singing, no hand shaking or other physical contact, no congregating in the Narthex.

Church Visioning Retreat: In January, the Council approved hiring a consultant from Leaderwise to lead the congregation in 3 Zoom visioning sessions. Being connected via phone is also an option. More information is below and available at www.associatedchurch.org/visioning.

Farmers to Families Food Distribution: Dave Sabin from the Mission Ministry Team presented details on how our church would be able to distribute 1300 boxes of food from the USDA. This could be done at the Steele County Fairgrounds. Mission Ministry Team will ask another church to be involved to have enough volunteers to make this happen. Watch the Weekly Pulse for the date and more information.

Pastor Coqui’s Updates: Pastor Coqui is again able to walk and drive as her broken leg heals. Pastor Coqui is working with community groups regarding racism and affordable housing. Pastor Coqui was recently elected to the Board at Transitional Housing.

Announcements from other Ministry Teams: Administration MT announced the purchase of a new copier machine (approved at January meeting). Personnel MT announced the resignation of Judy Thon-Jones, organist. Adult MT reported The Friendship Group is sending more notes and doing more phone calls than a year ago. Their primary focus is on members who are not connected digitally to church.

The next Council Meeting is March 22 at 7 PM via Zoom. Any member is welcome to attend. Let Pastor Coqui, Tyler Cochran, or myself know and you will be sent a link.

Gloria Sabin
Moderator of Council
Mobile: 507-530-2979
A Message from Judy Thon-Jones

Dear Church Members,

I have been in contact with Pastor Coqui, and want to send a note to all of you as well. We hope you are all doing well.

It looks like the church may be able to reopen soon, and that is truly wonderful. However, Gary and I have felt with his MS and our 5 kids, that we really want to be extra careful with gatherings and not return to congregational settings until we and more people are vaccinated. Gary is able to work from home, and we are thankful for that. We fully respect that different people have different feelings and tolerances with gatherings, and that is OK. In thinking about that, I realize that the church will be in need of an organist/pianist before I am comfortable to return.

We have given this much thought this past week when Pastor Coqui notified me that the church may be ready to reopen soon, and we do feel from many angles, it is best for me to step aside. I have really enjoyed being a part of worship services with you, and working with all of the staff, but honestly, I have become increasingly more aware this year that my plate is full. With the 5 kids, 3 are now in homeschool (and will continue in homeschool after the pandemic), and in a year or two all 5 will be in homeschool here, I do find days to be pretty full! I also wistfully look at the thought that as things return more to normal, we, as a family, might enjoy taking the opportunity to go somewhere for a weekend, something we have never been able to do as most every Sunday (until this year..) since 1987 has been right here at our church home with all of you.

I thank you for the opportunity to help in some small way to join with you in sending a joyful noise to our Lord!

Thanks,
Judy Thon Jones
Organist & Accompanist
P.S. Dear Council and church members, Thank you so much for the beautiful flowers. What a day brightener! Thank you for the beautiful thoughts and the opportunity to send praises to our God. - Judy
March is Minnesota FoodShare Month

During March we will be receiving monetary gifts for Steele County Community Pathways (Food Shelf).

You can donate online at www.associatedchurch.org/give (cash donations allow the food shelf to purchase food at drastically reduced prices) or you can mail a donation to the church with Food Shelf noted in the memo.
One Great Hour of Sharing (OGHS) is one of the four Special Offerings designated by both of our denominations, Presbyterian Church (USA) and the United Church of Christ. Usually we collect throughout Lent, but this year we are emphasizing Food Shelf Month during March. Our One Great Hour of Sharing gifts will be received on April 4 (Easter Sunday). 

OGHS supports ministries for disaster relief, for refugee assistance, and ministries for development of health and wellness programs, supporting education programs, and other ways to create opportunity and empowerment in communities. 

Through our offerings we continue to give life to those in need, here and around the world. When you share what God has given to you, you let love flow, continuing the dream of a world where no one is thirsty, no one is hungry, or suffering from lack of essential needs.

Please let your love flow by giving generously to One Great Hour of Sharing! You can make a gift online at www.associatedchurch.org/give or by mail to the church office (note "OGHS" in your check memo).
Matthew 25 calls us to actively engage in the community around us. Recently, the Mission Ministry Team reached out to essential workers to show our appreciation for their dedication and commitment of caring.

A card of recognition and thanks along with a balloon bouquet and heart shaped suckers were delivered to the staff at the Owatonna Hospital, the Mayo Clinic Health System and the Mayo Clinic Ambulance crew.

These front line employees, numbering over 700, have been working for close to a year to care for our community and keep us as safe as possible. The time was right to let them know that "We see you! We appreciate you!"
Connect with us for Worship
Sundays at 9AM, live on our website, Facebook, or YouTube
You can also watch worship on Owatonna Public Access TV
(Charter/Spectrum channel 181, Jaguar/Metronet channel 900)
Tuesdays at 10 AM and 8 PM, Thursdays at 10 AM and 9:30 PM

If you miss the livestream on Sunday morning, you can always find recordings of our recent worship services on our website.
A Note About Office Hours

Due to the pandemic and the fact that our office is typically staffed by volunteers, office hours continue to vary. Please call ahead (507-451-1546), leave a voicemail, or email office@associatedchurch.org.

Otherwise, please contact Pastor Coqui (518-596-9990) if you are unable to reach the person you are looking for (see staff directory below).
Associated Staff Directory
Lead Minister:
Rev. Coqui Conkey
Parish Associate:
Rev. Skip Smith
Parish Associate:
Pat Postlewaite
Interim Financial Coordinator:
Dori Armstrong
Communication Coordinator:
Tyler Cochran
Custodian:
Bryce Armstrong
507-475-1608
Music Director:
Bev Cashman
Cornerstone Director:
Sue Leithold-Bowcock
Associated Church Council
Gloria Sabin
Moderator & Personnel, Adult Ministry
Sharon Partridge
Vice Moderator & Mission Ministry
507-213-9093
Dori Armstrong
Elder, Stewardship Ministry
(507) 456-2344
Darlene Blong
Elder, Congregational Life Ministry
Leah Cochran
Elder, Scholarship Team
507-456-1337
Gary Jones
Elder, Children & Youth Ministry
507-990-0963
Noah Moore
Elder, Worship Ministry
507-213-0590
Dave Pfieffer
Elder, Administration Ministry
Dave Sabin
Elder, Property Ministry, Nominating
507-829-1036