Pastor David Charlton
Hello, my name is David Charlton. I'm the pastor at First United Methodist Church (UMC) of Port St. John. Whether you’re a Christian looking for a church home or a seeker of truth, we wish to welcome you with open arms and introduce you to the love of God in Jesus Christ.
I first accepted Jesus as my Savior and Lord as a 6th grader going through confirmation class at St. Paul UMC in Jacksonville, Florida. It didn’t take long, however, for me to grow away from God. I stopped attending church, almost never prayed and read very little of the Bible. I became a self-reliant man. Thankfully, God never gave up on me.
As a cadet at the Virginia Military Institute (VMI), I started to attend church. I also became active with the Baptist Student Union (BSU) as a way to meet young ladies from other schools. (VMI was all male at the time.) Despite my impure motive, God used my time at the BSU to develop a longing for His love. This longing came to fruition a few years later when I rededicated my life to Jesus while serving as a soldier in Korea.
After graduating from VMI, I became an Army Military Intelligence Officer. As a 2nd Lieutenant, I received the opportunity to attend the U.S. Army Ranger School. This is one of the toughest Army leadership schools. You’re graded on how well you can lead extremely tired and hungry men under realistic combat conditions. I passed only because of God’s intervention. There were many times when God provided just the right person at just the right time to help me get through a graded leadership event.
I first received the call to ministry while attending Ranger School. During one of the patrols, I was thinking about how God was enabling me to pass. That’s when the idea of becoming a pastor entered my head. I quickly dismissed the idea because I wanted to be a famous General. Approximately 2 ½ years later, while praying in my apartment in Hinesville, Georgia, I surrendered to God and decided to become a pastor.
When I was about to leave the Army to pursue the ministry, my wife Jackie became pregnant. In order to keep my health insurance for my wife and unborn child, I decided to stay in the Army a while longer. During her sixth month of pregnancy, Jackie developed preeclampsia and my daughter, Sarah, was born over three months early. After struggling for seven months in the neo-natal intensive care unit (NICU), Sarah died. This was an extremely painful time for us.
For a long time, Jackie was angry at God. She wanted nothing to do with God or children. The pain was too great. One day, while I was on maneuvers, she was alone in our apartment with pills in one hand and wine in her other hand. She was contemplating how she could stop the pain permanently. At that moment she decided to talk to God. She said, “God, I’m told you can take this pain away from me. So, before I end it all, I’ll give you a chance.” From that moment on, Jackie began her intimate, loving relationship with God through faith in Jesus. Although she never stopped missing Sarah, the pain went away. God healed her. A few years later, she became a pre-school teacher. God used our infant daughter Sarah to bring us closer to Him. We serve a great and loving God.
Soon after Sarah’s death, I left active duty, joined the Army Reserves and started the process to become a United Methodist pastor. After spending 4 years as a Juvenile Probation Officer (JPO), I became a student at Asbury Theological Seminary. I also became a part-time student pastor at Lake Como Community United Methodist Church.
On February 13, 2007 my son, Joshua, was born. This joyous event was soon followed by tragedy. Early morning on May 26, 2007 Jackie, Joshua and I were driving south on highway 17. A drunk driver heading north hit us head on. Joshua and I received minor injuries but Jackie was killed.
God’s grace gave me the strength to get through this event and begin to raise my son as a single father. God’s grace also gave me the strength to attend the sentencing of the person who killed my wife. During the sentencing I forgave the person and told him the good news about God’s offer of forgiveness. While he was in prison, I wrote him a few letters and further explained God’s love for him. God used me in a powerful way.
In July 2008 I became the pastor at Glynlea Grace UMC in Jacksonville, FL. Soon after that move, God provided me and Joshua with a lovely lady named Donna. On April 4, 2009 I married her. She’s a wonderful wife and an awesome mom. God is good.
For over 7 years, God has been using me, Donna and Joshua to share God’s love. On January 15, 2012 we moved to Sanford, Fl. and became the pastoral family at First UMC of Sanford. We learned to understand and love people from various walks of life as we helped shepherd the church and community through the aftermath of the Trayvon Martin shooting.
On July 1, 2015 we moved to Port St. John (PSJ), FL to become the pastoral family at First UMC of PSJ. We look forward to getting to know the families at First UMC PSJ. We also look forward to helping this congregation to continue its wonderful work of ‘making God’s love real’.
Mary rejoined our staff in June 2016. She previously worked as the Office Manager from 3/2003 to 3/2011. She thought she was ready for retirement, but found working at the church much more rewarding. Mary will great you with a warm hello as you enter the church office, and always has time to work with our church members on a personal level, no matter what might be pressing at the moment. She is happily married to Dave and is the proud mother of Theresa Peres, who has given her the wonderful gift of grand motherhood to Talon & Taylor Peres. Her daughter and family reside in nearby Palm Bay.
Assistant Office Manager
Wendy was born in Winsted, CT and resided in Hatboro, Pa. for 11 years. In 1987 my husband and I moved aboard a sailboat named "Lordsway". We then cruised the Caribbean for 14 years. Jim and I have been married 41 years and now live in Cocoa, FL .
I have a married son and 3 grandchildren, all of whom live in Pennsylvania. My daughter lives in Missouri. My occupations have included many years as a legal secretary, waitress (in Puerto Rico and U.S. Virgin Islands) and presently Office Assistant. I thank the Lord each day for all my blessings and pray that He continue to use me all of my life.
Laurie brings more than 15 years experience in Methodist church accounting to the finances of the church. She has worked for five Methodist churches in Florida and North Carolina varying from large to small congregations.
She feels her calling is to faithfully account for the funds that have been given for God’s work, and to communicate that information to the church leadership and the congregation. She translates financial reports so that everyone can understand what the numbers mean. Laurie has been married for over 20 years to her husband Bill, and they have three children Melissa, John and Matt.
Melissa has also blessed them with two grandchildren, who live with their mother in Jacksonville.
Praise Team Director
Lou Ann Linton
Lou Ann has over 40 years experience playing the piano with church choirs, 22 of which have been at First United Methodist of Port St. John. In addition to her church music endeavors, other experiences have included accompanying school music groups, local theater productions, weddings, funerals, and even a college graduation.
She, husband Donny, and children Logan and Hannah have been members of the church since 1987.