Throughout our 20 year history, we’ve had the privilege of seeing thousands of people come to faith in Jesus Christ and be baptized in water. We can’t even take credit for what’s happened, because God had way more in mind than we ever could have imagined! Here’s the really short version…

Lighthouse Church was established on February 12, 2000 in the living room of its founding pastors, Fay and Steve Robinson, along with nine other people. Many years before in 1978, the Lord spoke to Steve about having a ministry called Lighthouse…22 years later, this was the beginning.

A few weeks after the first service in their home, Steve was working late one night, and on his way home, felt prompted by the Lord to turn around and go back to a building a few blocks away where there was a Spanish speaking church. He turned around, went back, and sat in the parking lot, looking up at a sign written in Spanish, wondering why God would send him there. After about an hour and a half of praying and crying, he finally said, “God, I know they speak Spanish at this church, and I don't speak a word of it, so if you want me to come here I'll either learn to speak Spanish or get an interpreter, but I’m willing."

The next day, Steve came out of a rental house that he owned and there was a note on his windshield from the pastor of that Spanish speaking church, who lived a few doors down, asking if he’d come and see him. When Steve met him on the sidewalk in front of his house, the pastor said that the night before, he’d had a vision and God told him to sell Steve their church building. Within a few days they had put a plan together and shortly thereafter Lighthouse Church moved into its first building on Beck Avenue.

In just 8 short months, Lighthouse was outgrowing the 3,000 square-foot facility, and one of Steve’s friends told him that there was a church property on the beach side that was for sale. Steve went to take a look at the property with him, and while they were upstairs in a building overlooking a pond on the property, the man strongly encouraged him to pursue this opportunity for their young church. Pastor Steve wasn’t yet convinced though, because if that were to happen, they would need a financial miracle! After all, at the time, they would have barely filled a few rows in this larger facility. Besides that, they had already signed a long-term mortgage on the Beck Avenue facility, which Steve and Fay had personally guaranteed. But God did miraculously provide, and less than one year from that first service in a living room, Lighthouse moved to Allison Avenue.

A few years later, God really began to deal with Steve about finding a pastor to whom he could turn over the ministry. He had sensed from the beginning that he would not be the pastor for very long, but that his job was to establish the ministry, both spiritually and financially, on a solid foundation. Around this same time Pastor Steve and Fay, on a visit to California, were reacquainted with friends they hadn’t seen since they had attended church together decades earlier. These friends happened to be Pastor Cole’s father and mother-in-law, and they decided to move to Panama City Beach. Fresh out of the military and having also sensed a simple, but perplexing, directive from the Lord to move to Panama City Beach, Florida, Cole and Juili left California, with their then 1-year-old daughter Savannah, and arrived in the area on New Year’s Eve 2003 just in time to ring in a new year. 2004 would prove to be an adventure!

Eventually, God’s plan unfolded in a surprising way, when in June of 2004, Pastor Steve, encouraged by other leaders in the church to do so, approached Cole and Juili about the possibility of passing the ministry of Lighthouse to them. To say that anyone involved in this scenario thought it made sense would be an overstatement, but what everyone did sense was God’s will and grace in it all. With a core group of faithful members, Lighthouse Church embarked on a new season. On July 11, 2004, Cole and Juili Bailey were officially installed as lead pastors of Lighthouse Church and the very next week Cole preached for the first time. Just weeks later, another church plant, whose pastor had recently resigned, consolidated with Lighthouse. By spring of 2005, there were about 100 people in attendance.
At the time, Lighthouse had way more facilities than we did congregation, and Pastor Cole felt strongly about using the facilities God had given us to their fullest potential. So, in the fall of 2005, we purchased cardio and weight equipment and opened “The Lord’s Gym” to serve as a bridge to our community. In the years that followed, we would host over 10,000 people in our gym facilities, many of whom came to faith and began attending Lighthouse Church.

God has continued to pour out His Spirit at Lighthouse. In 2009, a second service on Sunday morning became necessary, and by the end of that year, our weekly attendance was over 400. Then in 2011, we gave the basketball courts a facelift and moved services into the gym area, while children’s ministry took our previous space in the “old” sanctuary. By 2013, we added a third Sunday morning service, and in 2014, we built the outdoor lobby, and completely gutted and remodeled an old apartment building on the property to house our children’s ministry. In 2016, we added a balcony to increase our seating capacity by 200 in each service and purchased 2+ acres of adjoining property behind our church. We also opened Discovery Place childcare center. In the fall of 2018 we were in the process of clearing the adjoining acreage to add to and improve our parking, but that project was not completed due to Hurricane Michael.

The Sunday before Hurricane Michael, our attendance broke 2,000 for the first time ever (outside of Easter or Christmas). In the days and months following Hurricane Michael, we had the privilege of hosting and partnering with Operation Blessing, a disaster relief organization. During that time we had the opportunity to serve our community by housing volunteers and helping provide assistance by way of supplies, meals, tarping roofs, chainsaw teams, and clean-up crews. Hurricane Michael left more than half of our campus unusable, including our sanctuary, but we continued to worship in the spaces we did have! 17 months later, we purchased the old Carmike Theater on 23rd Street, which had also been severely damaged by Michael. Within weeks of announcing our plans to begin a building project to renovate the theater and move to a new location, COVID-19 restrictions were announced and in person service ceased, but God’s plan for our church did not cease! We pressed on and began renovations in the summer of 2020. We moved into our new home June 6, 2021 and what a homecoming it has been! God is faithful!