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HOUSTON - Update 1 p.m. Aug. 29: Officials with Houston’s Lakewood Church said Tuesday on Twitter that the church was open to people seeking shelter in the wake of widespread criticism for its failure to open immediately after Harvey started to batter the city.
Lakewood’s doors are open to anyone needing shelter. We are also looking for volunteers and collecting shelter supplies.— Lakewood Church (@lakewoodch) August 29, 2017
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!"
Victoria and I care deeply about our fellow Houstonians. Lakewood’s doors are open and we are receiving anyone who needs shelter.— Joel Osteen (@JoelOsteen) August 29, 2017
God gives us grace for every challenge. Stay strong and know that God has you in the palm of His hand!— Joel Osteen (@JoelOsteen) August 29, 2017
Original report: Author and evangelist Joel Osteen, senior pastor of Houston’s Lakewood Church, is responding after getting some criticism after posting messages of prayer on social media.
Many have posted on social media demanding to know why the megachurch hasn’t been turned into a shelter for storm refugees.
Maybe you can also open your gigantic church to shelter some of the victims?— Lesley Abravanel (@lesleyabravanel) August 28, 2017
Are you planning on opening your complex for use by those affected by Hurricane Harvey?— Kim Bannerman (@kmbannerman) August 28, 2017
@JoelOsteen why aren't you opening ur doors? Houston needs you. Practice what you preach— sylvia flores (@sylflo) August 28, 2017
The facility’s Facebook page posted an announcement that the historic flooding ravaging Houston have rendered the facility inaccessible and have suggested people seek other options:
Those who have been able reach the site explain in their own posts why the church isn’t able to function as a shelter at the moment. It’s also partially underwater:
Here's inside Lakewood church for all of you idiots saying Joel Olstein is a selfish. It's flooded. Not safe for housing ppl. 🤗🤗🤗 pic.twitter.com/ELyVv3s6g1— ↞ randi 🌻🌵elaine ↠ (@Randitweeted) August 28, 2017
Osteen and Lakewood Church responded with a statement late Monday, saying,
“We have never closed our doors. We will continue to be a distribution center for 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 in helping our fellow citizens rebuild their lives.”
Lakewood Church posted on its Twitter page that it is coordinating with the city and collecting supplies to distribute to Houston area shelters.
Coordinating with the city, Lakewood is a collection site for distributing supplies to the Houston area shelters. https://t.co/XxIbYde0L6— Lakewood Church (@lakewoodch) August 29, 2017
Beginning at 12 Noon tomorrow we are collecting infant and adult diapers, baby formula and baby food.— Lakewood Church (@lakewoodch) August 29, 2017
Please bring these items to Lakewood Church, Circle Drive off Timmons St. https://t.co/XxIbYde0L6— Lakewood Church (@lakewoodch) August 29, 2017
The Cox Media Group National Content Desk contributed to this report.