Pastor: 'People should probably write us off' if churches don't respond to disasters
Posted August 29
Raleigh, N.C. — As Joel Osteen opened his Houston megachurch to those seeking shelter from Hurricane Harvey after a day of online criticism, religious leaders are weighing in on what the role of a church is during disasters.
Most can agree that the images coming out of Texas are heartbreaking, but many question what the “right response” to the situation is. While no church is the same, Pastor Nancy Petty with Pullen Memorial Baptist Church said there is a standard of response.
“It’s my opinion that the church should always be on the front lines in any community during any time of crisis,” Petty said.
Osteen, pastor of Lakewood Church in Houston, faced backlash for a tweet in which he offered prayers for those affected by Hurricane Harvey.
Petty said she wouldn’t comment on the social media chatter, but believes it is fair that communities have expectations of the churches in their own backyards.
“Churches are one of the only organizations in a community that’s already organized. We have people. We have groups that are already in place to respond,” she said.
The definition of being on the front lines during a disaster can differ from church to church. For some it may mean physically opening their doors for those seeking shelter while others may collect supplies, make a monetary donation or hold a prayer meeting.
“It’s not up to me to judge what the individual churches decide that they can do or can’t do. For me, personally, and what I would hope for my church that I pastor is that we would think about doing all of those things,” Petty said. “If we can’t respond in these kinds of times, in the crisis times, then I think people probably should write us off.”
Video showed flooding in the Lakewood Church kept them from opening their doors sooner.