The Sherman Congregational Church recently welcomed its new minister but also said goodbye to its church secretary Edna Coons.

Coons has been on the job at 6 Church Road since 1996.

A lifelong Sherman resident, Coons, 66, retired as of July 15. She has worked for the Rev. Randy Thompson, the Rev. Dr. Mark Horton (a couple of times), the Rev. Paul Astbury, and interim ministers the Revs. Richard Woodward and Dr. Bernie Powell.

She said her plan was always to retire when Astbury retired. But a long search process and wait for the new pastor, the Rev. Jitesh Soans, put off her plans almost indefinitely.

“I have seen a lot out my windows through the years,” she said with a laugh. “Watching Paul Voorhees and the late Rudy Gerger decorating the Christmas tree outside the church remains a high point.

She also remembered Laura Baxter, now of New Milford, dressed as a court jester entertaining the Vacation Bible School children, and loved watching Gretchen Briggs and her horse and buggy trotting past along Church Road.

“There were many sad times too,” she added. “Such as mobilizing the troops to help a beloved older member when we were given the news her daughter had been murdered.”

But she said the most challenging has been the last three years as the church searched for a settled pastor, and one interim minister had to leave because of family health problems and another stepped in to fill the gap.

“It was lonely too, trying to keep the church moving forward and staying together,” she said. “I need to retire and hibernate to put my mind at peace for a while.”

Astbury praised Coons for her service to the church.

“Make no mistake: For Edna, this was not just a job -- it was a spiritual service,” he wrote in an email.

“She had a gift of vision for the future of this church,” Astbury wrote. “The best example was her leadership in the mission trip to Lion of Judah Academy in Tanzania. It enriched the vision of our entire congregation as to what God was doing in faraway places and among people we will only know in heaven.”

Church members visited and worked at the school in 2005 and 2009.

Coons marshaled the ladies of the church for the 2005 trip, who sewed uniforms for the students at LOJ, and she also organized the shipping of supplies to the school.

Coons has been married to Don Coons for 42 years, has three grown children, three grandchildren and another on the way.

She is a graduate of Hartwick College, Oneonta, N.Y., where she met Don and earned a BS in botany.

She is also a lifetime member of Girl Scouts of the USA.

Work has included wholesale greenhouses and real estate, but the secretarial job has been a labor of love.

She has been responsible for everything from opening the mail and typing the minister’s sermon to preparing the Sunday bulletin and putting together the monthly Emphasis, the church newsletter now shared on email.

Coons was a Sherman Memorial Day parade committee member for 26 years, and is a longtime member of the Sherman Garden Club.

She will continue to work in her own gardens and plans to attend Wednesday Morning Women’s Bible Study in the fall at the church which she has never been able to do.

She added, “I am also looking forward to quilting again and am dusting off my sewing machine.”