Culture

Hurricane Harvey: Joel Osteen prepares to open megachurch to flood victims

Hurricane Harvey: Joel Osteen prepares to open megachurch to flood victims”

Houston's Lakewood Church issued a statement after being heavily accused on social media of refusing to open its doors to the hurricanes' evacuees.

Over the weekend, a message posted to the Lakewood Church Facebook page said that church was "inaccessible due to severe flooding".

At first, people believed that the church itself was flooded. Photos posted from the scene indicate flooding at the church site, although other photos and video clips suggest the church wasn't damaged. The city set up a shelter about four miles from here that can house 10,000 people - showers, dormitories, kitchen security, all that - they didn't need us as a shelter at that point.

Lakewood Church, a former 16,000 seat basketball arena that was converted into a church, tweeted Tuesday at 10 a.m. that the church is now "receiving people who need shelter". "But, you know what, we've been here 60 years helping people and we're going to be here long after all this dies down helping these people as well".

After reiterating that the church is a distribution center for flood relief, Osteen said his Sunday sermon will focus on the positive.

As reported by Time, Iloff said the church would collect baby items, formula, and baby and adult diapers for the city on Tuesday.

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The televangelist says the church faced flooding in 2001 and was only saved by the floodgates.

In a pair of tweets, the church's senior pastor, Joel Osteen, wrote for those affected by Harvey to "stay strong and know that God has you in the palm of His hand!" "And we want to help".

However, people took to social media to criticise the church and shared pictures instead of the area surrounding the church with streets that were accessible.

The Houston Lakewood Church has a capacity of nearly 17,000 but it has not been open to evacuees since the storm hit.

The church can accommodate several hundred people on its second floor, spokesman Don Iloff told CNN.

Osteen's Lakewood Church boasts one of the largest weekly congregations in the country. He added they are prepared to shelter people once the city and county shelters reach capacity.



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