Panama City Rescue Mission is a privately funded, nonprofit 501 C (3) organization. It receives no direct city, county, state or federal funding and is not currently an affiliated agency of the United Way (however, United Way contributors can designate their donations to the Mission). All funding comes from grants, foundations, businesses, churches, and members of the community, plus proceeds from the thrift store operation and other work training/enterprise programs.
People loving God and serving others.
To provide an environment where the compassion and love of Jesus Christ heals and equips people to be successful in overcoming life’s adversities.
To provide a “continuum of care” for homeless and needy individuals that begins with shelter, food, and clothing, and continues with a personal development program of rehabilitation, vocational training, job placement and education while providing ongoing living in a recovery-oriented environment through transitional housing.
What Makes the Panama City Rescue Mission Different
Panama City Rescue Mission differs from secular programs recognizing true change begins on the inside through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Understanding without the power of the Holy Spirit, people are powerless to “be good” by our efforts. This Spirit working through everyone will begin to nurture love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. So what is the difference? It is the power of the gospel of Jesus Christ, as exhibited by the lives permanently changed through an encounter with the Living God.
Since 1972 the Panama City Rescue Mission has provided thousands of nights of shelter, more than 1 million meals and the basic needs of everyday life. The Mission is best known for its immediate needs program. Recovery is, however, where the most positive, permanent impact on the lives of homeless people and the community is seen.
The Mission officially opened its doors in April 1972 in the Bay Hotel Building, which was 100 years old and located at 27 East Beach Drive (where the First Federal Bank parking lot is located now). Food, housing and chapel services were provided.
- In 1975 Rev. Joe O’Daniel from Montgomery, Ala, arrived to serve as the Executive Director.
- O’Daniel offered a 3-day emergency shelter or 90-day recovery program. The need for additional space and housing for an increasing homeless population during the 1980’s led to the building of the current location at 609 Allen Avenue in 1985.
- 1984 Seymore’s Electric at 501 East 6th Street was purchased from Holden Harders, who provided a loan for the building. Eventually Harders forgave the loan so all contributions could be used for ministry.
- In 2001, the Board hired Thurman Chambers, who had served Missions in Atlanta, Ga, and Jacksonville, Fl, to serve as Executive Director after Mr. O’Daniel passed away.
- Chambers organized the first long-term Christian recovery program, “Power to Choose,” and opened longer-term transitional beds, introducing a mix of specialized services to assist individual needs.
- The Mission opened the Thrift Depot in the 515 East 6th Street location as an emergency clothing center and The Bargain Center as its first retail thrift store at 401 East 6th Street to assist in generating self-sustaining revenues for the programs.
- In May 2004, Chambers and the Board of Directors purchased a 6-acre property on Transmitter Road that would become Bethel Village, a home for women and children.
- Rev. Billy Fox was chosen in 2005 to serve as Executive Director. After a few months in office, the tragic Hurricane Katrina affected our neighbors to the west in Louisiana and Mississippi. Fox led the effort to provide material relief in the form of food and household goods by opening the temporary “Katrina Free Store” and catering to evacuees in Bay County.
- That summer, the Mission began an outreach program for homeless and needy children, providing school uniforms and school supplies. In its first two years, Klothes for Kids served more than 1,500 kids.
- In September 2005, the Mission officially opened the doors to the Homeless Day Resource Center in the former Thrift Depot location at 515 E 6th St. The center represents a community collaboration among Hunger and Homeless Coalition agencies bringing a variety of human services to one central location on the Mission’s campus.
- In the Spring of 2006, renovations to Bethel Village were completed with the help of Stalnaker Construction and other area businesses. The improvements expanded capacity from 7 to 19 students/children. Additional beds were added to existing space in 2010 and 2012, increasing the capacity at Bethel Village to 23.
- As an answer to the need for meeting space for revivals and concerts, and also to help add aesthetically to our corner of downtown, the Mission’s Spanish Style Courtyard was built and dedicated in 2007. It includes an indoor amphitheatre and privacy for our guests.
- Since then, improvements to the facility have been made adding new parking and an enclosed backyard in 2011.
- A three-year effort to secure a development order to expand Bethel Village with a new 28 bed dorm facility and several transitional housing units was ended when an appeal to Springfield’s City Commission denial of the development order request was turned down in Circuit Court.
- Our Hope Center Ministry in Port St. Joe opened March 2012.
- Political pressures from Panama City’s Council and downtown merchants in 2012 led to the decision to close the Day Center at the end of 2012 and return the focus of the PC Rescue Mission’s ministry to the transformational programs for targeted populations. Transitional Programs, Work Program, strengthening the long term substance abuse recovery ministries, and stricter short term emergency shelter services were instituted. Public meals decreased to one daily and services to Day Center visitors ended.
- Our Hope Center Ministry in Port St. Joe opened March 2012.
- Strategic planning and repositioning of the PC Rescue Mission was accomplished in 2013, based on the decision to emphasize our commitment to Gospel- infused transformational ministry. The name for the PCRM ministries was changed to Pathways Christian Recovery Ministries. A new logo was launched. Website and online presence was enhanced through online e-giving, social media utilization, and improved website management as a communication tool to our various constituencies.
- Thurman Chambers returned to PCRM in October 2013. He changed the name of the ministry back to Panama City Rescue Mission.
How may we be assured of eternal life the Bible promises in John 3:16?
1. Realize that all are sinners. “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God,” Romans 3:23
2. Know that the consequence of sin is death. “For the wages of sin is death,” Romans 6:23, and eternal separation (some might call it Hell) from Him.
3. Understand that because God loves us so much, He wanted to provide a way for us to be with Him in eternity (Heaven). “He hath made Him (Jesus who knew no sin) to be sin for us . . .that we might be made in the righteousness of God in Him,” 2 Corinthians 5:21.
4. Believe that Jesus bore the sins of the world on Himself, and died to be the payment of all sin. “Without the shedding of blood, there is no remission (pardon),” Hebrews 9:22.
5. Believe that Jesus defeated death by being raised from the dead and He now lives in Heaven with God the Father. “But God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him,” Acts 2:24.
6. Pray to ask Jesus to forgive you of your sins, repent (stop committing those sins) and make your confession out loud. “If thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved,” Romans 10:9.
7. Continue praying for forgiveness when you commit new sins. Enter into a relationship with Jesus; you will continue to grow to be just like Him. Read your Bible; it is the word of God, His way of speaking to you. And witness to other people of the grace of God and Jesus’s atoning sacrifice.