Virgil Miller Newton (also known as Father Cassian Newton) is a current Chairman and Director of Christ at the Sea Foundation in Madeira Beach, Florida; a priest in the Antiochian Orthodox Church (but is no longer listed on the AOC website); and the former Director of several rehabilitation centers for youth with drug problems, behavior problems, eating disorders and other compulsive behavior. His rehabilitative methods have been criticized.
Many former patients have sued for abuse.〔() 〕
Virgil Miller Newton III (born 1938, Tampa Bay, Florida)〔() 〕 was the son of Louisa and Virgil Miller Newton Junior. His father was managing editor of the Tampa Tribune and well known for his fight against secrecy in the government, authoring papers such as “Federal Thought Control a Challenge to American Liberties and Freedom.” His mother taught Sunday School at their local church, Hyde Park Methodist.
During his sophomore year he felt “called to preach the word of God.” The Florida Methodist Conference licensed him to preach during his senior year at Sewanee Military Academy. In the summer of 1956, before heading to college he filled in as a student supply pastor in This hometown of Tampa and St Petersburg, FL.〔 From 1956-1957, Newton was appointed state Master Counselor for the Florida chapter of The Order of DeMolay.
In the fall of 1956, he began attending Princeton University . After taking a course in religion, Newton in 1957 was contracted to be the lay pastor for the Emlystown circuit in New Jersey, which consisted of 3 churches.〔 Shortly after returning from a ministers conference at Ashbury College, his car lost control and crashed into an oncoming truck, killing a classmate. Newton who had been sleeping in the back seat at the time suffered minor injuries. He stayed in New Jersey over the 1957 summer break to continue his preaching circuit.〔 Newton returned to Florida and recuperated for a year before resuming his studies at the University of Florida, where he obtained a degree in history.〔 During this time, he married and had three children with wife Ruth Ann(née Klink): Joanna (born 1959), Miller (born 1960), and Mark (born 1964). He returned to Princeton University and earned his master's degree.
Moving to Indianapolis in late 1963, Newton became the Methodist head pastor of Fletcher Place and subsequently was appointed to the Inter City Association, an organization dedicated to urban poverty issues. During 1964-1965 Newton helped raise money for the black belt region, advocated for an end to token appointments that do not adequately represent the local African American community〔 and protested against the lack of representation of African Americans on the Mayor's poverty board. Newton also created a storefront church he named “Outpost” in which he held informal meetings to encourage neighborhood political empowerment on urban poverty issues.〔 Following this period Newton moved back to Florida..
The University of Southern Florida in Tampa hired Newton as an associate professor of education where he had both teaching and administrative duties.〔 In 1972 Newton took a leave of absence from the university to campaign for the Democratic nomination for the Florida 5th congressional seat; this was one of three newly created positions.〔 Despite being a prior former president of the Florida Young Democrats he failed to gain the nomination.〔〔 He was subsequently appointed by Florida Governor Reubin Askew〔 as Pasco Circuit Court Clerk and Clerk to the County Commission. Newton modernized and reorganized the office and in 1974 was reelected to serve out the remaining 2 years of the position. During his term he dealt with several conflicts and in 1975 faced a stripping of power after the County Commission felt he had dabble in policy-making. Newton chose in 1976 not to stand for reelection for the clerk position,〔 but instead tried a second time to win the Democratic nomination for the 5th District congressional seat. After a fierce campaign involving a lawsuit and ethics complaint filed against his opponent JoAnne Saunders, Newton loses the nomination a second time. In 1977, Newton went to work for Gary Smith and Associates and later that year, suffered the loss of his father.
In 1979, Newton was named the Executive Director of the Florida Alcohol Coalition. His youngest son Mark developed a drug problem and on September 26, was enrolled in Straight, Inc.. a drug rehabilitation program. At the time, Newton was Executive Director of the Florida Association of Alcohol Treatment Programs. The experience with Mark profoundly affected Newton.
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