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.