Originally published in Christian Today
It has been several months since gospel singer Israel Houghton stepped down from his position as worship leader at Pastor Joel Osteen’s Lakewood Church in Houston, Texas. But much like the prodigal son, he was welcomed back by the entire church family with open arms last Sunday.
Houghton expressed jubilation over their reunion on his Instagram account (@ihoughton) with a selfie taken with Osteen’s mother Dodie.
“SO refreshing to be home @lakewoodchurch this morning sitting next to this Queen @dodieosteen hearing my friend @realjohngray bring a powerful message. @dadra @imstevecrawford @petewilsons & the team led an amazing worship experience. My heart is happy today. #ILoveMyChurch,” he wrote.
Dodie reciprocated the love by posting the same photo on her Twitter account (@DodieOsteen). “One of my favorite people & singers Israel Houghton visited us today. Our family was so glad,” Dodie tweeted.
Lakewood Church earlier clarified that even though Houghton took an indefinite leave from church, he was not fired from his position. “We can confirm that Israel is on indefinite leave, but it is important to clarify that we still consider Israel to be a part of the Lakewood family and that his employment has not been terminated,” the church said in a statement.
The decision to step down was made by Houghton after he announced his divorce after more than two decades of marriage.
“It is with a collective heavy heart that we announce that after over 20 years of marriage and a long separation, Meleasa and I are officially divorced. Several years ago I failed and sinned in my marriage,” he said in a Facebook post last February.
“Though this is new to many, it is not new to us, as we have been working through this for over five years. Although we tried, the challenges in our relationship have proven too much to overcome.”
The singer apologised for his personal failures, as well as for hurting others because of his mistakes. “Although I am sincerely sorry, and forgiven, I soberly realise that I will live with the consequences of my failings for the rest of my life,” he continued. “As this has become a public matter, I want to apologise to the many who have supported my ministry through the years.”