Joel Osteen’s Lakewood Church in Houston, Texas, released a statement Monday saying they would open their doors to the victims of Hurricane Harvey after receiving severe backlash on social media during the weekend over keeping their doors closed to the victims.
The statement from the church read: “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,” ABC News reported.
LGBTQ activist Charles Clymer posted an image inside the church Monday night showing air mattresses being placed, and captioned it saying the church is “prepping to open their doors.”
In a separate tweet, Clymer also said “A source at Lakewood Church just told me they’re planning to open their doors to Houston’s homeless and displaced. Finally.”
Osteen, the famed pastor of the megachurch, defended himself during the weekend after receiving a lot of social media flak for not offering shelter to the victims of the hurricane that has already dumped 20 to 40 inches of rain on the Houston area alone and is expected to increase with time.
In a post on his Twitter account on Saturday, Osteen wrote: “Victoria & I are praying for everyone affected by Hurricane Harvey. Please join us as we pray for the safety of our Texas friends & family.”
In another tweet, he said “Give people the grace to change,” defending himself after receiving criticism
He also posted a tweet with the link to the website of the church and asked for help with recovering the city from the damages by the hurricane.
On Sunday, in response to numerous requests that the church, which can house over 16,000 people, be opened for victims, Lakewood Church posted on their official Facebook page that it is “inaccessible due to severe flooding” and listed a number of nearby Houston shelters for the displaced residents.