WOLF ALERT! Name: Marcus Bishop. Location: Panama City Beach, FL
It's time to expose this Wolf in Sheep's clothing as he is right here, under my nose, in Panama City Beach!
“I am a follower of Jesus. I practice of Buddhism. I am a student of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi and I am a student in miracles and more than anything I am passionate about a path of reality that manifests in love and peace." Marcus Bishop
Read and weep...
Church or Club?
It's to be expected that spring breakers who come to Panama City Beach will party, but it's unexpected that they would do so in a local church.
There are signs asking for a cover charge and an ATM at the property listed as Faith Christian Family Church. And that's some of the evidence that the location may serve a different purpose.
"I myself went in there saturday night at around 11 o'clock at night. There's no chairs in there there's no pews. They had a loud stereo system going, they're running videos on top of the stay. To all purposes it's a nigh club. I've been to a lot of night clubs, it's a night club. I've been to a lot of churches, it's not a church,” said Panama City Beach Chief of Police Drew Whitman.
Because the facility is listed as a church, it’s tax exempt. Property owner Markus Bishop, who has a criminal record, recently told Chief Whitman he still holds church service at the same location as Club Amnesia Wednesdays and Sundays.
"A true church, a God fearing, God honoring church that conducts meaningful worshipful services and activities in January doesn't sponsor this type of debauchery in March, ” said Bay County appraiser Dan Sowell.
After he heard this news, Sowell removed the tax exemption from the location. Even spring breakers found this situation unsettling.
"They were advertising it a lot and apparently they had like explicit like you're not going to remember the fun night and I'm like, not in a church,” said spring breaker Mary-Kate Messer.
“I don't think that partying is something you should take into the church,” said spring breaker Tyler Smith.
The bottom line, authorities smell something fishy and they're investigating.
"There's something wrong with this picture. You know you got monies not accountable going through the door. To me it's a scam. It is a scam. And I nor the chief are going to stand by. And if we can stop, we're going to stop it,” said Bay County Sheriff Frank McKeithen.
News 13 reached out to property owner Markus Bishop for comment, but he didn’t return any of our phone calls.
Now let's look back...
Former Panama City Beach Pastor Accepts a Plea Deal
02/12/2015 05:35 PM
A former Panama City Beach pastor accepts a plea deal.
The Bay County Clerk of Courts says Markus Bishop, 54, had his charges for delivery of a controlled substance to a child and contributing to the delinquency of a minor dropped.
His charge for felony battery was amended to misdemeanor battery and he pled adjudicated withheld to that charge. As a result he faces 12 months of probation, 100 hours of community service, no contact with the victim and must pay the court over a thousand dollars in fees.
Back in September 2014 the Bay County Sheriff's Office arrested Bishop and he was accused of giving a 16 year-old marijuana and kissed the teen several times.
Marcus Bishop was once pastor of the now closed Faith Christian Family Church on Back Beach Road.
Leg's go back a little further...
Preacher Surrenders at the Bay County Jail on Child Abuse Charges
Thu 3:51 PM, Jun 24, 2004
Forty-four-year-old Marcus Bishop is charged with felony child abuse for slapping his 15-year-old daughter. Both of his daughters live in Alabama with their mother, but were visiting Bishop this week in Panama City Beach.
According to the arrest warrant, Bishop hit his daughter across the face hard enough to knock off her glasses.
Two hours after the incident when the police were called, the teenager still had a hand print on her face and there were visible welts.
Bishop's attorney, Waylon Graham, says the case is just bogus. "She was standing in her daddy's face, screaming and hollering and calling him a dumb “a-hole” and at that point Rev. Bishop smacked her on the cheek and told her to hush, and here we are."
Bishop is the pastor at The Faith Christian Family Church on Back Beach Road at Panama City Beach.
Now listen to what he believes! Icing on the cake
Mega Church Pastor's Long Spiritual Journey
Sat 9:28 PM, Jun 22, 2013
CLICK HERE TO WATCH VIDEO
Markus Bishop has been in the headlines throughout the years for many reasons but, this time it is for something different.
"For some reason there are rumors and people talking about what I am today,” said Bishop. “I guess right off the bat it would be difficult in a sound bit to explain my spiritual path."
Bishop says he began a journey several years ago to find his truth.
"Because I had certainly complied with and conformed with a lot of things in my beliefs that didn't resonate with me. And I decided after a lot of difficult things occurred in my life, people may call it a crash and burn, they were an awakening. They made me really go and look within."
Bishop lead a mega church in Panama City Beach, but two bitter divorces, a bankruptcy and a court battle to keep from paying taxes on his multimillion dollar parsonage changed his outlook on life.
“It's not about what label you wear or title you carry, it's about what goes on inside you, Bishop said.
“I am a follower of Jesus. I practice of Buddhism. I am a student of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi and I am a student in miracles and more than anything I am passionate about a path of reality that manifests in love and peace."
Bishop has a new church, called The Life Center, where he says there are no rules, no religion, just love.
UPDATE MARCH 23, 2015
PCB church loses tax exemption after opening club
By ZACK McDONALD | News Herald Writer
Published: Wednesday, March 11, 2015 at 10:53 AM.
PANAMA CITY BEACH — A local church that has been hosting naked paint parties and slumber-party Sundays with the “sexiest ladies on the beach” will now have to pay taxes on the property as officers investigate the church’s practices, authorities said Tuesday.
The Life Center: A Spiritual Community, 9721 Thomas Drive, has been up and running its seven-days-a-week party schedule as Amesia: The Tabernacle since Feb. 28. But The Tabernacle, which caters to college students on vacation, has caught the attention of more than just party-seeking spring breakers.
Since ATMs and a banner promoting “iDrink” appeared out front of The Life Center, the Bay County Sheriff’s Office and Panama City Beach Police Department investigators have began taking a closer look at the church. Owned by Markus Q. Bishop, former pastor of Faith Christian Family Church, officials said the club has been engaging in activities unbefitting of a church.
Bishop could not be reached Tuesday for a comment on this story.
A sign on the front of The Tabernacle stated the events are alcohol and drug free and donations go back to the church. Promoters said it is a church by day and youth ministry by night.
Sheriff Frank McKeithen said it is a “blatant slap in the face” to taxpayers and law enforcement.
“They’re trying to get around the laws, and they’re using the church to get there,” McKeithen said.
Since a Facebook post from BCSO questioned the integrity of the club, highlighting that the club often hosts adult entertainment, Club Amnesia has shut down its website. However, when the website was available, it boasted a Sunday night event called “Slumber,” a pajama and lingerie party hosted by “the sexiest ladies on the beach.” Raves take place weekly along with an “Anything But Clothes” paint party. And Wednesday nights are reserved for an event called “Wet n Wild,” a water-themed event where “white water meets Tabernacle PCB with a little twerkin’,” the website stated.
“I’ve been in a lot of nightclubs and I’ve been in a lot of churches,” said PCBPD Chief Drew Whitman. “That isn’t a church.”
Patrons are charged $20 at the door, which is called a donation. And T-shirts depicting stick figures performing oral sex on one another and the text “I hate being sober” adorn the walls.
Whitman and McKeithen said it is not the nature of the events that has piqued their attention. Several similar events are hosted at clubs just east of Club Amnesia. However, the business does not have alcohol permits or appropriate licenses, is zoned as a church and has been tax-exempt as a church for years, McKeithen said.
Property Appraiser Dan Sowell sided with law enforcement. He said the lot had been tax exempt as a church until word spread about the activities being held within. The property’s tax-exempt status was changed Tuesday morning.
“A bottle club, charging $20 at the door and selling obscene T-shirts is not being used as a church,” Sowell said. “A God-fearing, God-honoring church in January does not sponsor this type of debauchery in March.”
Amnesia’s website reopened Tuesday night with a disclaimer attached.
“The Tabernacle is a drug and alcohol free community for the youth to go for spring break at night to interact with each other in a fun safe environment,” the website now states. “iDrink sponsors this community reach out program with their non-alcoholic bottled water product only. We thank all of our patrons that have attended and will be attending our safe environment.”
The site includes an application sheet to become an “ambassador” of The Tabernacle and “help get the word out about our safe place to go instead of wondering the strip.”
This is not the first time Bishop has faced scrutiny from county tax officials. In 2004, he challenged a property tax assessment on his the 10,000 square-foot, five-bedroom, six-bathroom home he lived in, saying the mansion was a parsonage and should be tax exempt. A string of rulings over years went in favor of Bishop.
Sowell said he also has changed the tax exempt status of that property.
Bishop is currently on probation after pleading to a misdemeanor battery charge that surfaced after a 16-year-old girl said he made unwanted sexual advances toward her.
'Church' hosting raunchy spring break parties loses tax-exempt status
The Life Center: A Spiritual Community in Panama City Beach has been stripped of its tax-exempt status after hosting wild spring break parties as Amnesia: The Tabernacle.
By Ben Hooper Contact the Author | March 12, 2015 at 3:19 PM
Read more: http://www.upi.com/Odd_News/2015/03/12/Church-hosting-raunchy-spring-break-parties-loses-tax-exempt-status/6551426186355/#ixzz3VFL2VxMx
PANAMA CITY BEACH, Fla., March 12 (UPI) -- Authorities in Florida said a church has lost its tax-exempt status after it was found to be hosting nude paint events and slumber parties with the "sexiest ladies."
Property Appraiser Dan Sowell said Panama City Beach's Life Center: A Spiritual Community has lost its tax-exempt status after authorities discovered it has been hosting late night spring break parties as "Amnesia: The Tabernacle" since Feb. 28.
The events hosted at the facility included an "anything but clothes" body painting party and a slumber party billed as "a pajama and lingerie party hosted by the sexiest ladies on the beach."
Sheriff Frank McKeithen told the Panama City News-Herald treating the facility as a church is a "blatant slap in the face" to taxpayers and authorities.
"They're trying to get around the laws, and they're using the church to get there," McKeithen said.
Sowell agreed with the sheriff's assessment.
"A bottle club, charging $20 at the door and selling obscene T-shirts is not being used as a church," Sowell said. "A God-fearing, God-honoring church in January does not sponsor this type of debauchery in March."
Read more: http://www.upi.com/Odd_News/2015/03/12/Church-hosting-raunchy-spring-break-parties-loses-tax-exempt-status/6551426186355/#ixzz3VFKoYPpu
MARCH 24, 2015 UPDATE
Tabernacle Church Members Speak Out on the Life Center Church's Spring Break Amnesia
Updated: Mon 11:09 PM, Mar 23, 2015
By: Jamie Hale
The Life Center Church is used as a place of worship by day, and it recently became a hotspot for spring breakers.
PANAMA CITY BEACH-- The Life Center Church is used as a place of worship by day, and it recently became a hotspot for spring breakers.
Its website advertised events with themes like "Paint Parties" and "Anything But Clothes."
Promoters for what was called "Spring Break Amnesia -- The Tabernacle" told NewsChannel 7 it was a youth ministry, but law enforcement says it's a nightclub.
But as of this weekend, it's stopped operating at night.
Because of the police reports, the Bay County Property Appraiser's office removed the church's tax exemption on March 9.
NewsChannel 7 received a statement from the property appraiser's office Monday saying since the activities going on inside the building on Thomas Drive don't match those of a church, they don't meet the tax exempt requirements.
The property appraiser's office also removed tax exemption status from 3703 Preserve Bay Blvd., a home owned by the church's former pastor, Markus Bishop.
Dan Sowell's statement indicated that since Bishop isn't a pastor, the house cannot be a parsonage.
That's not the only issue coming out of the church turned "club," especially when it comes to the name.
"The Tabernacle here on Frankford Avenue has been here for 13 years," Tabernacle Church Senior Pastor Bill Pfeffer said. "We are not affiliated with the Tabernacle on the beach."
The pastor of a church in Panama City says spring breakers seem to confuse his church with the one on the beach.
"We've been getting phone calls about what time toga parties start and happy hour, and I'm like, well happy hour's all day, but we don't do toga parties," Tabernacle Church Associate Pastor Donna Pfeffer said. "But you know, it's just, when you get phone calls like that after you been at this church for 13 years, it's kind of saddening."
The Pfeffers say what's happening on the beach is giving Christian churches a bad name.
"Sadly to say, it gives us all a bad reputation," Bill Pfeffer said. "It hurts us all and hopefully it doesn't cause people to leave the church, to walk away from the church."
"It just breaks my heart that I'm getting phone calls to the Tabernacle here, which is God's place, about that place out on the beach," said Donna Pfeffer. "We are no relationship to Markus Bishop, or the Life Center, the Tabernacle, none whatsoever. The only thing we probably have in common is happy hour, but ours is totally different."
NewsChannel 7 spoke with Chief Whitman Monday and he says neither the Panama City Beach Police Department or Bay County Sheriff's Office shut down the operation.
There is still an on-going investigation into the church.
NewsChannel 7 tried to reach Markus Bishop for comment multiple times Monday, but he did not return our calls.
DECEMBER 7, 2015 UPDATE
Faith Christian church sues property appraiser
Published 12/07 2015 04:47PM
Updated 12/07 2015 07:48PM
PANAMA CITY BEACH, Fla.
Markus Bishop and Faith Christian Family Church are once again suing the Bay County Property Appraiser's Office.
In a recent court filing the church argues that it should not have lost its tax exempt status because it allowed others to use the facility as a gathering place for young people during Spring Break.
Sheriff Frank McKeithen and Panama City Beach Police Chief Drew Whitman were both critical of the church during Spring Break for opening what they deemed a night club. That led to Property Appraiser Dan Sowell revoking the church's tax exempt status.
In a complaint against the property appraiser the church argues that church officials wanted to create a "safe venue" for young people that offered a "party like but wholesome atmosphere" with music food and non-alcoholic beverages.
The complaint states that the church took no money from a contractor and a subcontractor who created Spring Break Amnesia on the church grounds. Pastor Markus Bishop and other church officials found some of the activities at Spring Break amnesia offensive and they warned organizers several times to clean up the situation and they eventually shut it down.
The complaint goes on to argue that even though the activities took place the church should still be exempt from taxes and that the property is still predominantly used as a church.
The document also states that the tax exempt status for Bishop's parsonage was revoked in 2015 and he is asking to have it back. The multi-million dollar home in a gated community is listed for sale but Faith Christian says the pastor has not stopped living there. The suit states that the second reason exemption was denied is that the property appraiser contends that Faith Christian is no longer a church. The suit says Faith Christian has provided religious services for its members and public there at all times.
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JUNE 15, 2016 UPDATE
PCB Pastor arrested again in Pensacola
Published 06/15 2016 04:04PM
A Panama City Beach pastor who has had several run-ins with the law was arrested again earlier this month in Pensacola.
Markus Bishop is charged with possession of more than 20 grams of marijuana. Bishop is a controversial figure in the area, at one time the pastor of one of the largest congregations in Panama City Beach.
But the church he founded, Faith Christian Family Church, ran afoul of Property Appraiser Dan Sowell. The first time was over tax exempt status status of the church's parsonage, a large home in a gated community for Bishop. That was a fight Sowell lost.
The two groups are currently involved in a second court battle, which began in Spring Break 2015 when Sowell and members of law enforcement claimed the church had transformed itself into a moneymaking nighclub for Spring Breakers.
That case is ongoing.
Bishop was also once charged with battery, contributing to the delinquency of a minor and delivery of a controlled substance to a minor by an adult after a September of 2014 incident. Prosecutors dropped those charges in February of 2015.
UPDATE TO THE UPDATE