Joel Osteen denied accusations that his Lakewood Church was closed to Harvey relief following the extreme flooding in Houston that has left thousands of people without shelter.
Osteen’s response came after his church received wide criticism for apparently refusing to provide shelter for those affected by Hurricane Harvey, USA Today reported. News stories with headlines implying the church wouldn’t be helping out were widely published.
Osteen, the senior pastor of Lakewood Church, issued a statement saying the accusations were false and that his church is more than prepared to be a place of shelter for Harvey evacuees.
“We have never closed our doors,” Osteen said. “We will continue to be a distribution center to those in need. We are prepared to house people once shelters reach capacity. Lakewood will be a value to the community in the aftermath of this storm.”
The accusations were sparked by a Facebook post from Lakewood Church that was published on Sunday, saying “Lakewood Church is inaccessible due to severe flooding!”
The Facebook post came a day after Osteen took to his personal Twitter page to ask his followers to join him and his wife Victoria in praying for the victims of Hurricane Harvey, ABC News noted.
Victoria & I are praying for everyone affected by Hurricane Harvey. Please join us as we pray for the safety of our Texas friends & family.
The church is no stranger to helping relief victims. Back in 2005, Lakewood Church provided shelter to Hurricane Katrina victims.