Joel Osteen’s church says it’s receiving Houston residents who need shelter after backlash on social media
ABC News(HOUSTON) — Lakewood Church in Houston is accepting victims of Hurricane Harvey who need a place to shelter, the megachurch tweeted this morning, after it received backlash overnight for not offering its services to residents.
Joel Osteen, the church’s famed pastor, tweeted, “Lakewood’s doors are open and we are receiving anyone who needs shelter.”
The church posted a tweet that it is “also receiving supplies such as baby food, baby formula and other shelter needs.”
On Sunday, Lakewood Church posted on Facebook that it was “inaccessible due to severe flooding” and directed displaced residents to shelters in the city. The church can hold more than 16,000 people and has been previously active in relief efforts, including sheltering displaced victims during Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
The Facebook post courted criticism on social media on Monday, where photos appeared to suggest that the massive building, once home to the NBA’s Houston Rockets, had not been damaged by the torrential rains. It was not clear if the church was damaged in the storm.
In response, Osteen insisted in a statement Monday evening that he and his church were “prepared to house people once shelters reach capacity.”
“We have never closed our doors. We will continue to be a distribution center for those in need,” the statement said.
It added, “Lakewood will be a value to the community in the aftermath of this storm in helping our fellow citizens rebuild their lives.”
Lakewood Church sent photos to ABC News Monday evening that it said shows flooding in and around its complex.
The tweets from Lakewood and Osteen this morning did not mention flooding around the church.
Harvey, which tore through the Houston area last weekend, has forced evacuations and wiped out homes, and at least seven people have died. The National Weather Service deemed the flooding “epic and catastrophic” and Texas Gov. Greg Abbot said the aftermath of Harvey will likely be “horrific” and leave behind a mess that will “take years” to rebuild.
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