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.
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!"
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.
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:
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.
The Cox Media Group National Content Desk contributed to this report.