Lasting Connections

Marsha and Mike Watkins have lived in Buffalo for 36 years and been members of Zion for over thirty years.

We moved to Buffalo in 1977 and spent some time visiting churches, but I have to say it was hard to say no to Pastor Ed Blair. Mike and I met him, and he decided we had to be members of Zion! We Joined Zion in 1978.

Marsha knew at a very young age that she wanted to be a teacher. She started out teaching fourth grade at Roosevelt Elementary in St. Cloud. After daughter Sara was born she took a part time job as a Title 1 teacher working with younger children in Buffalo, and accepted a fourth grade position at Parkside in 1983.

The highlight of my teaching career was when I worked with a team of five teachers to plan and open a multiage school in Buffalo, Discovery Elementary. I always dreamed of teaching children more than one year and was thrilled when I was able to keep students three years, because I believe in lasting connections with children and families.

Marsha taught at Discovery Elementary from 1997-2012 and retired in 2012.

Marsha started volunteering with VBS, Sunday school, and Christmas programs when her children were younger, and served as a Confirmation guide when son Ryan was a student. Marsha has also been a part of Zion’s Vision team since 2012, which included serving as a small group leader for the Framing the Faith and Life Keys Discovery courses.

When an announcement was made at Zion about an opening for an interim position in Children’s and Family Ministry, it seemed like a perfect fit.

I knew after I retired from teaching I wanted to volunteer or contribute in some way at Zion because I LOVE our church. I also missed connecting with parents, children, and families.

Marsha found the position was a good fit for her, and she wanted to continue contributing and connecting with the children and families of Zion in her retirement from teaching, so she decided to apply for one of the permanent CFM Assistant positions.

I felt a calling to give in some way so the children of Zion felt loved and that Jesus loved them too! I loved coming to work every day and at the end of the day my bucket was full.

Marsha sees Children’s and Family Ministries at Zion as not just faith education, but an important part of reaching parents.

I feel the CFM program is one of the important ways to do outreach and evangelism. When the children in Sunday school feel loved, and they know their Sunday school teacher and the CFM staff can’t wait to see them each Sunday, they will encourage their parents to take them to church. I also hope while in Sunday school the children strengthen their “Faith Journey” and know God is always with them.

Marsha enjoys being part of the staff team at Zion because it’s such a positive environment to work in and she feels she’s making a difference.

I always knew all the Zion staff were talented and hard working but I never knew how well they worked together and supported each other. The quote, “Together we’re better’, applies to them each and every day!

Marsha loves reading, and being outside. Winter hobbies include cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, or walking, and summer hobbies include cabin time and gardening.

We have a family cabin on Bay Lake and in the summer I enjoy tubing, doing cannonballs, fishing, or sitting around a campfire at night. It’s relaxing for me to dig in the dirt and work in my eight perennial gardens.

Our greatest joy is spending time with our children and 5 grandchildren. Our house is the gathering place for all the holiday dinners and family celebrations. We love having our house full of people!

Marsha also enjoys volunteering at Lake Ridge Assisted Living.

I read to the residents each week and also work with Lee Ann Goerss and a group of young girls in a program called, “Love Does.” We meet twice a month at Lake Ridge and create artwork together, but our main goal is to create connections and friendships with the residents.

Marsha and Mike’s daughter, Sara, now lives in Lindstrom, and is a principal at Lakeside Elementary in Chisago Lakes. Sara and her husband Casey have three children: Ben (11), Sam (8), and Allie (6). Son Ryan met his wife, Beth, at Gustavus Adolphus College. They are building a home in Maple Plain which they hope to move into this spring, and they have two children; Pressley (5) and Paxton (2).