Casey Collins is Milford church’s 1st female pastor
MILFORD – Over 20 years ago, when Casey Collins decided she wanted to be a minister, she was discouraged by her family. Even though her father and grandfather were Methodist ministers, they said it was a man’s world.
"I wanted to go into the ministry to show people we are just as capable," she said recently.
Although there were a few rough places in the beginning, "I’m generally accepted. It wasn’t that way years ago."
Collins in the first woman minister in the 150- year history of the Milford United Methodist Church on North River Road. That was more chance than design, she said, since the Methodist Church assigns ministers to their member churches and she isn’t the only female minister.
Collins is originally from the Boston area, but until coming to Milford, all of her churches had been in Maine. As a student, she was sent to a tiny church, "they were down to nine members," one of two neighboring churches. "I helped build that church. What a wonderful experience for me."
From there she went to a small island in Casco Bay, one six miles in circumference and accessible only by ferry. "The numbers were getting too low to sustain a ministry. It was truly a community church, the only full-time church on the island, and we did a lot together to make it grow."
From there she went to Lewiston, to what was basically an inner city church, where she stayed until coming to Milford.
Prior to entering the ministry, she was a licensed social worker. "I didn’t enter earlier because I had no female role models," she said. "I had problems as a woman minister, certainly, but not so much now. I’m generally received very well."
There are those who are skeptical of a woman minister because of their upbringing, "but some are delighted."
"Every church is different," she said. I learn so much from all of them."
Her own religious background is diverse, she said, although her father was a minister. "When I rebelled as a teenager, said I didn’t need to go to church any more, they said okay, but we expect you to go to church somewhere. I went to many different places. I am probably the most liberal pastor you’ll ever meet. I absolutely respect all religions."
Collins has been in Milford since July and is getting to know the church and its people. "My personal goal is to help people remove barriers for the church. (This church) is good at getting out into the community. They have some great programs for all ages."
The church has two Sunday services. At 8:30 a.m. is a contemporary service, and at 10:45 a.m. is a more traditional service. The church can be reached at 673-2669 or at www.milford umc.org.