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Pastor: 'People should probably write us off' if churches don't respond to disasters

Posted August 29

— 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.


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  • RB Redmond Sep 2, 8:07 p.m.
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    “If we can’t respond in these kinds of times, in the crisis times, then I think people probably should write us off.”

  • Henry Cooper Aug 30, 5:14 p.m.
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    "We" are the people that read morn that Christian publications for news.

    Can you find a link defending them that is not a Christian based organization? CNN, FOX, MSNBC all have very diff accounts of what happened supported by actual video tape form people that went there.

    Did you look at the guy's video where he was standing at their doer and it was locked. He panned around the there was no way it was inaccessible as they claimed initially.

    As far as my money and time... Both. I spent about 12 hours prepping two boats (buying batteries for one) that a local bass club left with yesterday.

    And you?

  • Danny Basden Aug 30, 1:47 p.m.
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    View quoted thread

    I don't know who "we" is but I am getting the idea. I am guessing that you have already sent money or donated time....

  • Henry Cooper Aug 30, 12:54 p.m.
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    We know the real story. They claimed it to be inaccessible and was not. Plenty of pics and video to show this.

    Look at something besides a Christian Spun newspaper that I have read and is more fodder than addressing what is going on in Houston and the releases from the church. Last update was they blamed the Houston PD for the miscommunication. Really blame the busiest PD in the world over the past few days. My goodness.

    The additional links in that story were all to christian based organizations. Do you have anything without the christian spin?

    There are people with videos of them standing outside the locked doors showing it was not flooded. The guy even alluded to how many people could be dry in there.

  • Danny Basden Aug 30, 9:18 a.m.
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    View quoted thread

    I guess you didn't read the article that I posted or follow any of the links as to why the decisions were made. Just saying there are always two sides to the story and those that saw a chance to take pot shots at a church did so without knowing the full story.

  • Rod Runner Aug 30, 12:22 a.m.
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    Well, now what do you say that the church is "miraculously" open to take people in? And, fact, it already was before you posted this.

  • Henry Cooper Aug 29, 11:30 p.m.
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    Yeah lets get the whole story out there. They initially reported the church was flooded and inaccessible. The people like this person went there to see that was not the case at all. Only now has the Mega Church decided to open its doors.

    Any sane person has to wonder how genuine this is given the initial releases from the church. Had video not come out would it be open? Hard to lean towards "yes" on this one for me.


  • Danny Basden Aug 29, 11:02 p.m.
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    Like Ed Setzer, I am not the biggest fan of Joel Osteen but there is another side to the story. One being that the building that he now occupies has flooded in the past under less pressure - be sure to click on the links for more info on how the decisions were made.