Meet the Staff
Chris Bennett

Chris Bennett

Director of Family Ministry, Facility Director, & Director of Technology and AVL (Audio, Visual & Lighting)

I have been a part of the Ft. Walton Beach community since moving here in 1992 as a military brat. My family loved the area so much, my dad cross-trained career fields so that we would not have to move again. I graduated from Choctawhatchee High School in 2001. During my high school years, I became involved in church and began to form a personal relationship with God.

After moving away for a few years, I returned to the area and became heavily involved with various ministries at FWBFUMC. It was during this time that I felt a call on my life to be in full time ministry working with youth. God has given me a passion for it that burns so deep it is hard to describe. With this call on my heart, I enrolled at Regent University to obtain a BA in Biblical Studies and Theology, which I will complete in the spring of 2019.

I bring with me my wife, Mandy, and our son, Cayden, as we are excited to see what God has in store for us as we faithfully serve MEUMC. We look forward to building lasting relationships with the youth as we minister into their lives, help them to grow closer to God, and strengthen their faith as they become young adults.

Deanna Yahney

Deanna Yahney

Director of the Little Angels Preschool & MEUMC Social Media Coordinator

My name is Deanna Yahney and I am the Director of Little Angels Preschool. I grew up in Philadelphia, PA, and have lived on the Emerald Coast since 2011 with my husband and son. I enjoy spending time with my family, reading and visiting amusement parks

I graduated from Holy Family University with a B.A. in Computer Management Information Systems. After graduation, I worked as the Admissions Manager for a seaside amusement park on the Jersey Shore for 13 years until I moved to Florida in 2009. I have always loved children and began working in the childcare field shortly after my son was born. Since 2010, I have worked as a two year old teacher, school-age teacher and an Assistant Director, before finally settling into the Preschool’s Director role here at Mary Esther UMC. I have completed my DCF 45 hours of mandated training along with my Staff and Director Credentials. I also hold a First Aid and CPR certificate.

I feel that working with children is one of the greatest blessings from God. Being the Preschool Director provides me with a wonderful outlet to love, teach, and grow with God’s children and their families.

James Robbins

James Robbins II

Director of Music and Worship & Director of Congregational Care

It’s an honor and privilege to serve as the Director of the Music and Worship Ministries here at Mary Esther United Methodist Church under the leadership of Rev. Dr. Sam Parkes.

I began my musical journey around 12 years of age. My humble beginnings started while spending summers in the country in front of a miniature fan on top of an old piano. It later continued at my family church playing hymns for Church School and soon thereafter substituting for the Sunday service musician when needed. My love for God and music began to meld once I began to feel the power and presence of God in private settings. It was then that God challenged me to invite others into what we shared and my full- time ministry was birthed. Twenty years of music ministry include serving as the state music director for a sister Methodist denomination which required that I be comfortable in all genres of church music whether hymns, anthems, spirituals, traditional or contemporary. I also led the Tampa Bay Chapter of the Gospel Music Workshop of America for 5 years as music director and served on the executive board of the International Music and Christian Arts Ministry which produced the first live recording for a 100+-year-old denomination. 

I have a B.S. in Theology from Truth Bible College and Seminary and extensive study in marketing and business organizational management from Edward Waters College. I enjoy collaborating with others to do more than we each can ever hope to do on our own. I’ve learned that where there is unity, there is strength! I invite you to join us as we fine-tune our gifts and talents and practice His presence in rehearsals. It’s not just music when you can find GOD in it! Come join us here at MEUMC where strong minds and passionate hearts connect and unite in worship!