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.