After taking a firestorm of criticism on the internet, preacher Joel Osteen says that his megachurch in Houston has “never” closed its doors to those trying to escape the flooding from Hurricane Harvey.
Osteen had been harshly criticized for saying Lakewood Church would be closed due to it being inaccessible. However, social media sleuths went to the church and discovered it wasn’t completely flooded as had been mentioned. Since the negative opinions, though, Osteen and Lakewood have tried to make amends announced the church would be opening as a shelter once others become full.
“We have never closed our doors,” Osteen’s statement said. “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.”
The official announcement that it’s open to people who need shelter was made August 29 via Twitter.
The church seats 16,000 people and once served as the home arena for the Houston Rockets from 1975 to 2003. The church purchased the building, the Compaq Arena, for $7.5 million in 2003. It underwent renovations costing over $100 million to get where it is today.
Osteen’s net worth is around $40 million, and his wife of 30 years, Victoria, is a co-preacher at Lakewood. The couple have two grown children who are known to perform actively in services at the church.
In 2010, the couple moved from their home in Tanglewood, which was valued at $2.9 million, to a $10.5 million mansion in River Oaks, Culture Map reported.
The River Oaks mansion is a 17,000-square-foot stone mansion in the Tall Timbers subdivision. It’s located on 1.86 acres of land and reportedly had six bedrooms, six bathrooms, three elevators and five fireplaces when it was purchased. That also included a one-bedroom guest house along with a pool house. When the couple purchased the home, they had to pay $260,000 in property taxes for the year.
Check out some photos of the sprawling mansion below: