Faith Christian church sues property appraiser

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The document also states that the tax exempt status for Bishop's parsonage was revoked in 2015 and he is asking to have it back.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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