Pastor comes ’home’ to DUMC

Pam Griffin
The Destin Log

There will soon be a new face in the pulpit at Destin United Methodist Church, but he is certainly not new to the Panhandle.

Growing up in Okaloosa County, Rev. Allen Newton spent his early years in Fort Walton Beach and Destin and his teen years in Niceville.

"I graduated from NHS. Later, my wife and children and I spent 12 years on the coast in Northwest Florida, serving churches in Pensacola, Gulf Breeze, and Panama City Beach," Newton said.

In the United Methodist Church, pastors commit to go where the bishop appoints them. And the Newton family is very happy about coming to serve in Destin.

"In many ways it's like coming home," Newton said. "My dad, Rev. Dr. Doug Newton, actually served DUMC when I was a little boy and some of my earliest memories of church are in the old building on Calhoun Drive."

Growing up embedded in church and in a minister’s home, Newton developed a deep knowledge of God’s love and grace. He gave his heart to Christ and responded to an altar call at a Ford Philpot crusade that emphasized God’s unconditional love.

Feeling a call from God to ministry, Newton ran from this calling initially; however, everywhere he turned, he found the Lord and people who encouraged him. Newton was rooted in the vocation of ministry through his father and grandfather, both United Methodist ministers.

"Looking back, I can see that God was whispering his call to me all my life," Newton said. "I had other plans, of course. It wasn't until college that I began to get clarity. I remember one night, standing on a dock near Tom's Bayou, telling God I would do whatever he wanted me to do with my life.“

Forty years later, he is still following that call and is grateful it's brought him back "home" to Florida and Destin UMC.

"I do think God's given me the gift of helping lead others to discover the specific mission and purpose of our congregation," Newton said. "I believe God puts every person, every church, in this work for a reason.“

Newton said it is a privilege to walk with people during their highest and lowest moments of life.

"I love sharing the good news that Jesus loves us and never gives up on us no matter where we are in our journey," he said.