Joel Osteen announces special Sunday services after Lakewood Church shooting

Lakewood Church Pastor Joel Osteen says the ministry will host special services this Sunday in the aftermath of the fatal shooting at the church on February 11, 2024.
Lakewood Church Pastor Joel Osteen says the ministry will host special services this Sunday in the aftermath of the fatal shooting at the church on February 11, 2024. | Screenshot/Instagram/Joel Osteen

Lakewood Church’s longtime Pastor Joel Osteen invited members of the public to join him Sunday for special services to heal from a tragedy he “never dreamed we’d have to deal with" a week after a deadly shooting at the megachurch.

The announcement comes as Walli Carranza, the former mother-in-law of Lakewood Church shooter, Genesse Ivonne Moreno, alleged that long before her deadly confrontation with off-duty officers at the church last Sunday, her family reached out to pastors for help with the mentally troubled Moreno who publicly claimed she was a member of the congregation.

Last Sunday’s shootout between Moreno, 36, and two off-duty police officers left Carranza’s former daughter-in-law dead while her 7-year-old grandson, Samuel Moreno-Carranza, who was shot in the head, is fighting to stay alive at Texas Children's Hospital.

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Lakewood Church did not immediately respond to questions from The Christian Post about Moreno’s affiliation with the church, but in a March 2020 Instagram post, which is no longer accessible online, Moreno defended Lakewood Church as “my church” along with evidence showing she had contributed to the church at least once. 

“One may say my church is this and it’s that, I sit back and [facepalm] … for they like to clown on the people of God,” she wrote. “Do they know what they are doing??? Persecute, I say indeed and proceed. Your reward is waiting, as for me and my household…I will honor and bless my church. #lakewoodchurch #lakewood ministries #joelosteen #godblessamerica.”

Carranza also stated that her former daughter-in-law worshiped at Lakewood Church and told The Associated Press in a report Thursday that during a custody battle between her son, Enrique Carranza, and Moreno over her grandson, her attorney sent emails to Lakewood Church in 2020 and 2021 asking for help. The request was made based on a belief that Moreno’s mother was a member of the church.

Suspected Lakewood Church shooter Genesse Moreno was once a proud member of the megachurch.
Suspected Lakewood Church shooter Genesse Moreno was once a proud member of the megachurch. | Screenshot/Facebook/Firanda

Don Iloff, a spokesman for the megachurch, told the AP that their records show Moreno only attended the church “sporadically” for a couple of years and beyond 2022, they have no record of her attendance.

He further noted that while they are still looking, they haven’t found any records showing Moreno’s mother attended services at the megachurch, or receipt of any emails from Carranza’s attorney.

Iloff added that the extent of the help they could have offered to Moreno would have been limited to spiritual and biblical counseling.

“If we had reached out and [Moreno] had accepted counseling, then we definitely would have been more than happy to provide that,” Iloff said.

Moreno’s ex-husband, who is incarcerated, told a judge that she would “physically attack” him and “on multiple occasions, chased (him) out of the house with knives.”

The custody battle over their son started in Harris County, Texas, but ended in Montgomery County. Enrique Carranza was granted custody of his son in Harris County but a new trial in Montgomery County awarded custody to Moreno, even though the boy’s paternal grandmother had asked a judge to appoint her as temporary conservator, after pointing out that Moreno had schizophrenia and didn’t always take her prescribed medication.

In his testimony to a Harris County judge, Enrique Carranza said he wasn't told about the birth of his son until a month after he was born and Moreno had “told the hospital that (he) was dead.”

In documents filed in Montgomery County, Walli Carranza said Moreno and her mother “knowingly and intentionally harmed” Samuel by “lying” to authorities for reasons hard to understand “even by the pastoral staff of Joel Osteen’s church,” which is where Moreno’s mother claimed to be a member.

Walli Carranza wrote that she tried to “understand what caused the women’s behavior” by seeking assistance from the church.

When asked if their ongoing investigation into the shooting at Lakewood Church could provide and additional context to Moreno’s connection to the church, a spokesperson at the Houston Police Department referred CP to a statement they shared on X Tuesday.

“We continue to receive inquiries for more details and specifics in the investigation since yesterday’s news briefing,” the statement began. “We understand the desire to receive more information in the case. At this time, no other details are being released as this complex investigation is ongoing and still in its early stages. Any updates in the case will be posted here or released in future news briefings.”

In a recounting of the shooting at Lakewood Church, Houston Police Department's Commander of Homicide Christopher Hassig said at a press conference Monday that Moreno pulled up to the west side of the church building in a white vehicle at 1:53 p.m. on Sunday with her son in tow.

"She gets out of her white vehicle. She opens the door, pulls the 7-year-old child out of the backseat as well as a bag that is with her," he said.

Moreno then "confronts a security guard who lets her in along the west side of the building" at 1:55 p.m.

Moreno "immediately starts firing" after entering a hallway of the church.

The off-duty officers, who were working approved security jobs for the church, engaged Moreno in a gunfight. Moreno and the child are then brought down in a hail of bullets. Hassig said the child was shot once in the head but did not say who shot the child.

"Multiple rounds are fired by her at which point Officer Moreno of the Houston Police Department working an approved extra job at the location as well as TABC agent Herrera returned fire and the exchange is all there on the west side of the building," Hassig said.

"In the hallway, multiple shots are exchanged by all three. She eventually falls to the ground. The 7-year-old child falls to the ground as well from gunfire — one gunshot wound to the head."

Moreno was pronounced dead by Houston Fire Department personnel at 2:07 p.m. Hassig said, her son remains hospitalized in "critical condition."

Two weapons were recovered from the scene, including a .22 caliber rifle, which was not used in the shooting, and an AR-15 with a "Palestine" sticker, which Moreno fired at the officers.

Police have since revealed  a complete list of items taken from Moreno’s home in Conro, Texas, as evidence. The list includes nearly two dozen rounds of ammunition, two bullet-proof vests and a mask with “Free Gaza Trump” on it.

As the investigation continues, Osteen appeared focused on assuring his members of their safety at his church in a video message Thursday inviting them to special services focused on “healing and restoration” on Sunday.

“Yes, it’s been a difficult week, something we never dreamed we’d have to deal with, but we look back now, and we see the faithfulness of God. How he protected and watched over us,” Osteen began.

“This Sunday, we’re gonna have special services, a time of healing and restoration. A time of praise and thanksgiving — just thanking God for His angels watching after us and for his faithfulness. Where would we be without the favor and mercies of God? So we hope you and your family will come out,” he said.

“You know there are forces that would like for us to shrink back and live in fear. Afraid of what might happen at the school, the grocery store, at work, or even at church. But we are not people of fear, we are people of faith,” he added. “God has us in the palm of his hand. This is not the time to shrink back. This is the time to turn to God, to rally together, really, we are stronger together.”

Contact: Follow Leonardo Blair on Twitter: @leoblair Follow Leonardo Blair on Facebook: LeoBlairChristianPost

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