HOUSTON – Given that Reports emerged that Joel and Victoria Osteen’s Lakewood Church received $ 4.4 million in loans from the Payroll Protection Program, the Osteens have responded through representatives for Lakewood, saying they initially did not accept help.
However, as the pandemic progressed, Lakewood said it requested the assistance to support its employees as it did not have the ability to “collect substantial donations” as its in-person services had been suspended.
Here is the full statement KPRC 2 received from Lakewood Church:
Lakewood Church, our 368 full and part-time employees and their families are grateful for the Payroll Protection Program during these uncertain economic times caused by the COVID 19 pandemic.
Lakewood suspended his in-person services for more than seven months (March 15-October 18, 2020), affecting his ability to collect substantial donations during those services. In the belief that the shutdown would only last a few weeks, Lakewood initially did not accept PPP assistance during the first half of the program. However, as the shutdown persisted month after month, given economic uncertainty, Lakewood eventually applied for the PPP loan and was able to provide full wages and benefits, including health insurance coverage, to all of its employees and their families.
It is important to note that since 2004, Pastors Joel and Victoria Osteen have not received salaries from Lakewood Church, and the PPP funds do not provide them with any personal financial benefits whatsoever.
Lakewood is among 236,000 businesses in the Houston District that were approved for SBA assistance. The Houston District of the U.S. Small Business Administration noted in a press release that more than 126,000 Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans were made for a total of more than $ 13.9 thousand. million, and 110,000 Economic Damage Disaster Loans (EIDL) worth more than $ 5 billion in fiscal year 2020 (from Oct.2019-Sept.2020).
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