Bay Co. Officials Question Nightly Operation out of The Life Center Church

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PANAMA CITY BEACH-- A youth ministry, or a nightclub? It's what many Bay County residents are asking about what's now running nightly out of The Life Center church.

When asked if they would go to a nightclub inside of a church, many spring breakers had the same response. "Personally, I would say no," Kyle Salaway, a spring breaker from Pennsylvania, said.

A sign and ATM popped up outside of The Life Center, A Spiritual Community in Panama City Beach.

According to Bay Co. Sheriff Frank McKeithen, it's advertising a night club inside the church, Spring Break Amnesia: The Tabernacle.

But Tabernacle's promoters are saying something different. They wouldn't speak on camera, but representatives told NewsChannel 7 the church by day is a youth ministry by night.

But some people are not buying it.

"I feel it's an abomination," Jordy Brewer, a spring breaker from Kentucky, said. "How can this be a house of the Lord but at the same time participate in so much sin?"

Others say they wouldn't go personally, but they support the church trying to raise money. A sign on the church's door says admission fees go back to the church.

"I think it's totally fine, to be honest," Tim Mangin, a spring breaker from Pennsylvania, said. "I mean, I'd be a little hesitant to go there in the first place, just because it's in a church. But as long as they're trying to promote the general atmosphere of spring break in Panama City, I'm all for it."

Promoters said since nightlife now shuts down at 2 a.m. they want to provide a safe place for youth to sober up. But Bay County officials say that message and the website associated with the operation aren't matching up.

The website, springbreakamnesia.com, shut down around 7 p.m. Monday. Before that, McKeithen described it as "x-rated," saying "sexually explicit" shirts were for sale.

In a post on his Facebook page Monday, McKeithen said, "This is supposedly a youth ministry, but we will let you decide."

Despite the backlash on Facebook, this picture posted Sunday night on Instagram shows dozens of people lined up outside the door to get in. Other spring breakers say they're here to party but this crosses a line

"It's not even about Christ, you know," Brewer said. "That's what it's all about. It's not about the money, the popularity, it's about Christ."

We'll continue to try and make contact with Reverend Markus Bishop, who Sheriff McKeithen says is heading up the operation.