Meet the Rev. Casey Collins
When the Rev. Ruth Morrison was appointed to begin serving our church in 2004, she became the first permanent woman minister in the church’s 145-year history.
When the church recognizes its 158th anniversary later this year, Ruth will no longer be the only woman in the listing of its full-time ministers.
On Feb. 5, it was announced to the congregation at both Sunday services that the Rev. Casey Collins will become the Cape Elizabeth United Methodist Church minister when Ruth retires in June. Casey’s appointment takes effect on July 1.
Rev. Collins, whose father and grandfather also were Methodist ministers, comes to Maine after spending the past two years at the United Methodist Church in Milford, New Hampshire. During her 25 years as a minister, she also has served United Methodist churches in Lewiston, Maine and Peaks Island, Maine and was the founding pastor of the Good Shepherd United Methodist Church in Gray, Maine.
Before being ordained, Rev. Collins was a social worker, serving the elder population in Massachusetts. She also worked as a social worker in rehabilitation for the Salvation Army in New York.
Before Sunday’s announcement, Rev. Collins was introduced to our church’s Staff Parish Relations Committee by the Rev. James McPhee, our district superintendent from the New England Conference, during a closed door meeting at the church on Feb. 2. After two hours of questions and discussions, the committee agreed with the conference’s recommendation that Rev. Collins would be a good fit for our church. The conference recommendation came from Bishop Sudarshana Devadhar and his cabinet.
During the discussions, Rev. Collins said she is very pleased to be returning to Maine. Not only has she previously served churches in Gray, Lewiston, and Peaks Island, she also has a summer family home In Islesboro, an island community in Penobscot Bay, about three miles off the coast from Lincolnville. She also will be moving closer to an adult son who currently lives in Portland. She also has an adult daughter living in Baltimore.
Another connection between our church and Rev. Collins is that when she was going through the ordination process, she asked the Rev. Jim Young to be her mentor. Later, the Rev. Steve Notis, a former minister with our church, also was one of Rev. Collins’ mentors.
Rev. Collins received her divinity degree from the Bangor Theological Seminary. She previously had received a Master’s degree in Education from Antioch University in Ohio and a Bachelor’s degree in Audiology and Speech Pathology from Ithaca College in New York.
In addition to having served her Milford, New Hampshire congregation for the past two years, Rev. Collins is an elder in the New England Conference and serves on the District Committee on Ministry.
The Rev. Collins, who is single, describes herself as a traditional Methodist minister and a “people person,” and admits she is “very liberal.” Her Sunday services and preaching closely follow the Lectionary.
When asked by our Staff Parish Relations Committee what she is drawn to in her ministry pursuits, Rev. Collins immediately said “social justice.” But she also said her focus in social justice issues “depends on the passion of the people (in her church).”
Other areas of interest Rev. Collins considers most significant in her ministry are evangelism and getting out in the community in any way possible. She explained that in Milford, she goes out to the local coffee shop every week, orders coffee and asks people to join her. “I like to tell people who we are in the church and invite them to join us.” She went on to explain that “85 percent of people who come to a church for the first time are ones who have been invited by someone.”
District Superintendent Jim McPhee told the committee that every church at which the Rev. Collins has served has seen an increase in its membership.
The Milford UMC, at which Rev. Collins currently serves, has approximately 400 members, but only about 100 attend regularly at two Sunday morning services.
Involving youth in ministry is another of Rev. Collins’ priorities and she said she always has been active in making sure that happens.
But most of all for her church, Rev. Collins said, “My biggest goal is to get rid of any barrier between a person and God.”
One difference you will see between Ruth and Rev. Collins is the parsonage no longer will have dogs. “I have a cat,” she told our committee during Thursday’s discussions, “and his name is Pretzel.”