By Michelle Love
Pictures of Keith McCoy
Walking around Harpersville, you might think Theo Perkins’ man has clones of himself all over town. Every morning he drives a school bus and then, depending on his day’s schedule, he runs errands as mayor of Harpersville, shows a property to homeowner hopefuls as a real estate agent, or works with members. of his church – and we’re talking about HIS church. Perkins founded Liberty Christian Church in 2003 and served as senior pastor for the past 18 years of the congregation, which now has 230 members.
Wearing that many hits could make anyone else’s head spin, but not Theo. He takes pride in his work and believes that staying busy keeps the mind and spirit young.
Let’s start with his first hat he wears in the morning. Theo has officially been driving a bus for 29 years, but that doesn’t count the years he drove the bus while in high school. “I like it,” he says. “A lot of people say, ‘Oh, kids are terrible, they’re not like they used to be,’ and to that I say, ‘Children are still children, and as long as you respect them and demand respect from them then you have no problem. That’s how I drive the bus.
Over the years, he has seen students come and go, and he always makes sure to remind them that their time at school is precious. Its impact on students is well known in the city and has even inspired some local teachers.
Recently, he was approached by a teacher from another school about a certain speech he gives to students every morning. “It says, ‘You’re not here to eat, sleep, socialize, or courtship. You are here to study. Have a great day,” he said. “But this teacher came up to me and she said that since she heard about my talk, she was giving it to her own students.”
Theo’s life of service and imparting wisdom to others began with the help of then City Council President Wiltha Kelly, who was also a former teacher, after attending the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa. “Perkins, you’ve come home. You have been to college. It’s time for you to give back to your city,” he told Theo.
Wiltha went on to tell him about a vacancy on the local water board and that he was planning to nominate him for that position. Perkins Theo initially hesitated but ended up taking the job. A few months later, Wiltha pushed Theo to the Planning Board. Over the years, he became a member of the city council, and in 2004 he made the decision to run for mayor. He was elected and served for 12 years. After missing a year, he returned to the electoral circuit and once again took the lead in the city with its people in mind.
“People want someone who listens to them and takes their concerns seriously,” says Theo. “People’s problems are legitimate. Whether we think they’re underage or whatever, people put us here to solve problems. I hear people say, ‘Oh, so-and-so called me about their cat in a tree.’ Well, that’s part of it. That’s why we’re here, to help solve their problems, and people appreciate that.
Helping people as mayor led him to another love in his life: real estate. When he contacted his friend Valon Lowe of Lowe Realty at Columbiana and told him he was considering getting into real estate, Valon told him it was a great idea.
Theo worked with Valon for a while to learn the ropes of real estate and “cut his teeth” and then went to work for Abast Realty for a few years before getting his broker’s license. With time as an associate broker under his belt, he recently launched his own business, Realty Perkins, in February 2021. people throughout the process,” he says. “Some people need to be accompanied and someone to hold their hand, and we are more than happy to hold their hand through everything.”
His favorite part of the home buying process is the “indescribable joy” he feels when he helps people find their first home – something he wouldn’t change for the world and that makes the stressful process of buying a home is worth it.
This theme is also found in his church life. Perkins grew up in church, and her parents instilled a strong sense of faith and worship in her life. For years he sang in his church choir, and he eventually became the choir director and felt the call to lead the ministry in the late 90s. He was ordained soon after. During his first five years of ministry he replaced pastors, then in 2000 he began pastoring his first church in Alpine in Talladega County for three years.
Theo’s current church is non-denominational because he wants the church to be open to anyone who wants to express their love for God and who is looking for their purpose in life.
“We want to reach people and tell them that their lives can be changed through the word of God,” he says. “We want to uplift people and help them reach their God-given potential because everyone has potential.
For Theo, it is important to get to know everyone who walks through the doors of Liberty Christian Church, focusing his care and attention on the whole person. Jeremy Bradford, the church’s praise and worship leader and, also, one of Perkins’ real estate clients, can attest to this, describing Theo as “a gem for the community.” “He’s a life coach, counselor and friend,” Jeremy says. “He is indeed the type of person you would want in your corner.”
For example, when Jeremy’s grandmother passed away, Theo prayed for him, “when I didn’t know how to pray for myself”, and the encouragement helped Jeremy through a very dark time and regain his confidence, for which he is eternally grateful.
It’s relationship interactions like this, whether through real estate, driving a bus, serving as mayor or pastoring a church, that bring Theo the most joy. “I want our community to be great. I want it to be better, and I think that’s what makes me happy,” he says. “When I can see things getting better, when I see their light getting better, because it shows that all of these roles that I’m playing are making a difference.”
When asked where he finds the strength to lead so many people to find their truth, Theo has one credit: God. Although he admits it can be hard at times, he knows it’s all for a purpose bigger than himself.
“I know what my gift is,” he says. “I know what my purpose is, and it’s an encouragement, uplifting people. These things allow me to do what God has called me to do.