"...When He [Jesus] saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd." Matt 9:36

"Do not rob the poor, because he is poor... for the Lord will take up their case and plunder those who plunder them." Proverbs 22:22-23

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Update on "Marble Waters Hotel" Owned by Pastor R.J. Washington: Always Empty, Now Using Non-Profit Bought TV Air Time To Market the For-Profit Enterprise

As I wrote about in November 2012, a mega church here in Jacksonville built an 80-room hotel and suites called "Marble Waters Hotel and Suites". The hotel is built on the property of the "Titus Harvest Dome Spectrum Church" mega church owned and operated by Pastor R.J. Washington. Unbelievably, this church actually constructed a 4-story, 80-room hotel at a cost of about $11 million. 

The hotel, pictured at left, has been open for about a year. It has sat mostly empty, most nights looking almost COMPLETELY empty.

Now, the church is using TV time bought by the church for their ministry, to run commercials for the hotel! R.J. Washington and Titus Harvest Dome have a TV program on WJXT at 9:30 on Sundays, and this past Sunday the last 10 minutes of the program were devoted to commercials for the Marble Waters Hotel and Suites!

Is this right? Is this legal? A church is using funds - presumably untaxed tithes and offerings of their church members - to purchase TV time that is then used in part to advertise for a for-profit hotel that is owned by the pastor? How crazy can things get? 

There are some other strange things about this hotel that raises the eyebrows of the Watchdog:

1. The church purchased a 9.63 acre vacant lot to the west of the current church in 2004 for the price of about $5.6 million. Then, in 2011, a 3.2 acre parcel was carved out of this vacant 9.63 acres and was deeded to "Water Marble Holding, LLC" on which the hotel was constructed. Pastor R.J. is the registered agent for this LLC.

2. But it doesn't stop there. There is also a "Marble Waters Hotel and Suites, Inc.", a FOR-PROFIT Florida corporation, whose address is located at one of the church properties. Guess who is the head of this for-profit corporation? Yes, Apostle R.J. Washington.

This is beyond bizarre - the mixture of a for-profit hotel on property deeded by the church, but yet owned by the pastor, and advertised by the church on their TV ministry program.

My original post back in November 2012 was a bit in jest, pointing out that THIS might be the glimpse of what a mega or giga church would do IF indeed everyone obeyed their pastor and tithed and the church had so much of God's money they didn't know what to do with it.  What the heck, let's build a....HOTEL! Yes, a hotel for Jesus!

But really, I hope someone in the Jacksonville media will begin snooping around and asking questions: why did a church decide to build a hotel on their property? And do they even know what they are doing in operating it? What special "gifts" does R.J. Washington possess that would make him able to operate a hotel, and where did the money come from that was used to build it? And why is it mostly empty? And when it is sold - which it likely will be - to a company that knows how to market and operate a hotel - who gets the money?

And if the media isn't interested, maybe there are some church members who aren't too happy that their "tithes and offerings" might have been used to build an $11 million building owned by their pastor, that is sitting mostly vacant.

And now their money given to God is being used to advertise for this boondoggle whose vacancies make it look more like the Bates Motel than the Marble Waters Hotel.

Hopefully church members will speak up.

20 comments:

Anonymous said...

The saddest thing about this is that so many homeless and hungry are sleeping in the streets while a luxury hotel is sitting empty. Wouldn't God have "called" Pastor Washington to build a homeless shelter and food bank on the site. Even call it the "RJ Washington Mission" and he can raise donations to run it. I know I would give to support a real ministry to hurting people like that would be. But alas, I guess the lovely lord Jesus prefers RJ build a luxury hotel. And no one in the congregation seems to disagree.

Anonymous said...

I like the titles given these mighty servants of God. "Pastor and First Lady" and the best one of all "Apostle." I just cannot see how these guys can continually get away with this stuff. Where is the IRS?

gmostee said...

Church lobby pays the IRS off.

Tom Kelley said...

Hi Watchdog,
Meanwhile, the Mormon church has for-profit arms that own over half a million acres of land in Florida (and more elsewhere), and they are building a 32 story residential apartment tower in Philadelphia .

Apparently the Mormon church is able to do all this because church members are required to tithe in order to be allowed to participate in their most important rituals -- including getting married in a Mormon temple.

Just think of what these evangelical mega churches could rake in if they required tithing before you could get married in the church sanctuary! Pastors could forget about trying to motivate people with threats of curses if they don't tithe -- just tell them that they have to tithe if they want to experience God-approved sex! That would really get the bucks pouring into the church coffers.

Anonymous said...

Look at the review on Travel I wouldn't stay there either...Advisor....http://www.tripadvisor.com/Hotel_Review-g60805-d4041437-Reviews-Marble_Waters_Hotel_Suites-Jacksonville_Florida.html

Anonymous said...

I read the travel advisor reviews & I feel embarressed for the owners. It seems like they have no idea what they're doing, they just thought owning a hotel sounded cool.
Based on what I read about their management, or lack thereof, I don't support the idea that they own a homeless shelter just because the poor people visiting would probably find it more enjoyable sleeping in a cardboard box! I'm sure the hotel visitors wished the same for themselves...

Mark said...

I wonder if they have HBO on the TVs.

Anonymous said...

ahahahahah!!!! Church lobby pays the IRS off.

Gateway church displayed Texas Senator Ken Paxton, who is running for state attorney general, to the campus this weekend. Got a free introduction and plug by the church. He was a "special guest".

Wouldn't THAT be convenient?

Anonymous said...

New bumper sticker (to be printed)...

NaNaNaNa
My pastor can screw people out of more money than your pastor

Anonymous said...

Cool, Gateway!

FBC Dallas had David Dewhurst, Lt Gov candidate.

Just happened to be in the neighborhood in time for early voting beginning on Feb 18!

(And hinting to their members how to vote! But so subtly...)

Anonymous said...

To Anon on 2-14-14 5:57 pm,
No, I don’t think it’s “cool” that Gateway brings politics to the altar of Jesus Christ in such a heavy handed way. Did you know that they man a “Vote Under God” booth at all of their campuses that will register you to vote and then tell you how to vote like a Gateway member? See http://gatewaypeople.com/articles/vote-under-god-0 where you can read Robert Morris’ mission statement for that operation: “We want to see 100% voter registration and voter participation at Gateway Church.” Morris has a live audience of 29,000 each week plus thousands more attending via Internet which is more than enough to swing a close local election.
Morris has been brow beating his sheep every week since the new year trying to get a great turn out at the primary elections this March in TX. All you have to do is go visit the booth and the nice people will tell you how to vote. In January 2012 Gateway used their most important conference of the year, The First Conference for which members are all told to fast, pray and complete devotionals, was ALL about how and for whom Gateway members should vote. Very cool, right? Guess who their biggest speaker was? “Good friend and fellow believer” Glenn Beck. That’s right. The outspoken 100% Mormon was given the altar of Gateway to deliver a sermon to kick the year off right. See http://apprising.org/2012/11/23/word-faith-pastor-robert-morris-calls-mormon-glenn-beck-a-believer/ which also links to Glenn’s sermon in full. In Morris’ greatest judgment and biblical discernment he states and supports that this cult member is a fellow Christian. So why would you want to accept his word on who to vote for?
Morris sees Glenn as a potentially huge future Gateway tither. Who’s to say he won’t support other anti-Christian positions and leaders in the future if those leaders are rich enough or powerful enough to tempt his ego like Glenn did? Should the altars of Jesus Christ be used for the stumping of elections? Right now most of Morris’ choices are pretty conservative but what if the next rich and powerful person is a flaming liberal. Still cool, or maybe a little scary.

Anonymous said...

It is sad to see what some churches are stooping to as if the Gospel of Christ needs the assistance of man in ways other than to tell others about it.
It is particularly sad to me to read of fake baptisms at Furtick's church. Does the Holy Spirit need mans' schemes? I think not. If the Lord Jesus is not moving the hearts of those needing to be saved or baptized then wouldn't that indicate a failure of the pastor in his sermons? Oh I'm sorry. What was I thinking! If everyone was tithing they wouldn't have to put fake converts in the audience to come forward for baptism.
What if churches just resorted to those old fashioned methods of personal witnessing, discipling converts, and training them in the Bible? It worked in Bible times up until the technology age. Does technology and scheming over rule the power of God?

http://www.wcnc.com/news/iteam/How-Elevation-Church-Pastor-Furtick-produce-spontaneous-baptism-246072001.html

New BBC Open Forum said...

Grooming Young Cult Members

Gotta start them out early!

Nicholas Myra said...

Another example:

www.abpnews.com/ministry/congregations/item/7232-unconventional-project-combines-church-apartments

Neptune said...

Okay, this if off-topic again, but Caner has appointed a new CFO. You've got to read her entire bio and the title of her dissertation:

http://www.bpc.edu/news_and_info/news/2014/February/2-24_Dr_Nicole_Shepard_Named_New_BPC_CFO.htm

Anonymous said...

Neptune,

Shepard's dissertation: Ethical Decision Making in Private Colleges? I can't see the problem here. Caner is bolstering his ethics street cred by glomming onto Shepard's qualifications. Besides, maybe her conclusion was that making ethical decisions is too costly for modern day bible colleges or perhaps they interfere with BPC's efforts to become hipper and edgier so their students can represent a more "relevant" Jesus. She is not a CPA so she has no professional ethics standards to uphold. I'm sure her "chili pepper" rating on Rate My Professors had nothing to do with her promotion.

Neptune said...

Anonymous:

LOL - I found her dissertation to be amusing, considering the fact that Caner has not particularly had a love affair with the subjects of ethics and integrity.

It's amazing that someone like Randy Minton had obviously worked on getting the school ready for SACS; therefore, why would you fire someone who was helping to get the school out of the perpetual SACS probation?

WishIhadknown said...

The people at BPC need to learn to use SACS-COC and not SACS.

An Attorney said...

And the lady's Ph.D. is from an on-line graduate degree mill.

Anonymous said...

Maybe Dr. Nicole Shepard, who is more educated and more qualified to be the school president, can get behind the pulpit and vacuum back there for Butch Caner? LOL