Thursday, May 7, 2009

Lakewood Church of Houston Celebrates 50th Anniversary

Lakewood Church of Houston Celebrates 50th Anniversary

Founding Pastors John and Dodie Osteen Honored

HOUSTON, May 7 /Christian Newswire/ -- This Sunday, May 10th, 2009 will mark the 50th anniversary since Lakewood Church with Pastor John Osteen opened its doors for the first time. This Sunday will be a celebration of the lives changed throughout the last 50 years and the people of Houston who have helped make Lakewood a landmark in the city and the nation.

Its origins were humble. In fact, the first meeting of Lakewood Church with founding Pastors John and Dodie Osteen was held in a converted feed store on the outskirts of Houston on Mother's Day, 1959. From day one, the founders of Lakewood Church had a dream to reach the world for Christ and to preach to millions, fulfilling the great commission. Less than 100 people attended that first Sunday, but Pastor John began to attract people from all ages, religious backgrounds, races, and walks of life.

Over the next 40 years, John Osteen along with his wife Dodie touched the lives of millions of people in more than 100 countries. Lakewood became known throughout the world as a model for racial harmony and diversity - ministering to thousands of people through worship services, missions, education and community outreach.

For many years John Osteen encouraged his son Joel to preach, but he always declined preferring to work behind the scenes. In early 1999, Joel felt compelled to accept his father's invitation and he preached his first sermon on January 17th of that year. Little did anyone know that would be the last Sunday of John Osteen's life. Two weeks later Joel began preaching and later that year was installed as the new Senior Pastor of Lakewood Church.

Since John Osteen's death in 1999, under the leadership of Joel and his wife Victoria Osteen, Lakewood has grown to become the largest church in the US, with over 40,000 attending services each week and unprecedented outreach through television, online and stadium events across the U.S. In 2005, Joel moved Lakewood Church into its present location, the former Compaq Center, a 16,000-seat arena that was once home to the Houston Rockets professional basketball team. Family members Dodie Osteen, Dr. Paul Osteen and Lisa Comes are all pastors at Lakewood.

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