“While I am fascinated and inspired by all religious traditions, I look for the means by which love is expressed and experienced in these traditions. Love is the foundation for my theology, and for my religious and spiritual life. This is my ministry—to be present in love and compassion with others. I love my work.”
– Rev. Deane Perkins
In 2011, our then seventeen-year-old Unitarian Universalist Church of Belfast welcomed its first full-time, settled minister, the Reverend Dr. Deane Perkins. Perkins was called, by unanimous vote, to serve our 130 members and 35 children.
“That’s pretty extraordinary for a new congregation,” said Perkins, citing UUCB’s “tremendous vitality” as a compelling factor in his decision to accept its call.
Born in Jamaica Plain, MA, Deane grew up in Massachusetts and was raised as an American Baptist. Later, as an undergraduate student majoring in pre-theology at Ohio Wesleyan College, he studied and traveled in Lebanon and took a variety of courses on world religions, Middle-Eastern culture and Islam, and learned Arabic. Deane is ¼ Lebanese. This pilgrimage taught him a profound respect for “the beauty and complexity of the myriad religions and cultures.” Out of this process, came his natural vocation, teaching. He taught ethics and religious studies at Norwich University and Vermont College, where he challenged young people to find their own sense of truth.
After graduation, Deane went on to earn a doctoral degree in the psychology of religion from McGill University, and then spent three decades teaching at Norwich University in Vermont. In 1996 he felt called to the ministry as a Unitarian Universalist.
“When I decided finally to go into the ministry, it had to be in a context that was open, that allowed for critical analysis, and saw through the violent mythologies and systems that exist in today’s world. Because Unitarian Universalism is non-doctrinal and non-creedal, I can have my own beliefs, you can have your own beliefs, others can have their own beliefs and we can come together in a meaningful way to do good work and good ministry.” Our minister came to Belfast from the Unitarian Universalist Church at Glens Falls, N.Y.
During his tenure at UUCB, Reverend Deane has, through his sermons, challenged the congregation to grow spiritually, extended the church’s youth ministry, taught non-violent communication and broadened members’ spiritual horizons through classes and small group activities.
“The bottom line is that we’re working together to create a place that’s welcoming to gays, lesbians and transsexuals, that is open to everyone regardless of creed or political beliefs,” he said. “Many people are disillusioned about their past churches, congregations, temples or synagogues, but there is a safe haven here – a sanctuary, truly – that allows us to do the kind of work that is important to better the world and provide right relations.”
Deane is married to Susan Cobb, and they have a blended family of four adult children. Sue has been an adjunct professor in Environmental Science and Ecology at three different colleges in Vermont. She is also well known as UUCB’s wildly popular resident chef, providing her talents to a variety of gourmet fundraising dinners. Deane and Sue have a small hobby/business in stone jewelry, rocks and fossils. They have “rock-hounded” extensively throughout the States and abroad. They also enjoy theater, including musicals and opera. Deane has a black belt in tae kwon do and is restoring two antique autos.