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Pastor's wife leaves plane after dispute

Pastor's wife leaves plane after dispute

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HOUSTON - The wife of the pastor of the nation's largest church was asked to leave a plane after she failed to comply with a flight attendant's instructions, the FBI said Tuesday.

Houston Lakewood Church pastor Joel Osteen, his wife Victoria Osteen, and their two children boarded a flight from Houston to Vail, Colo., on Monday. The plane's door had been closed when Victoria Osteen and a flight attendant had a verbal disagreement.

"She failed to comply with the flight attendant's instructions, and they were asked to leave the flight," FBI spokeswoman Luz Garcia said.

The flight was delayed for more than an hour while the Osteens' luggage was retrieved, Garcia said. The Osteens took another flight to Colorado, where church spokesman Don Iloff said the family was skiing Tuesday.

Iloff said Victoria Osteen stepped into the jetway to talk with the flight's pilot and other personnel while her husband and children remained seated in first class. Joel Osteen and the children later left the plane to join Victoria Osteen, who suggested the family take another flight.

The pilot agreed, and Continental booked the family on another flight, Iloff said.

"In semantics, they might have been asked to be removed," he said. "Really, it was more of a mutual thing."

Iloff called the disagreement between Victoria Osteen and the flight attendant "minor" but would not say what happened.

The FBI, which has three agents at Bush Intercontinental Airport, was not called to the plane but reviewed a report from Continental Airlines after the incident, Garcia said. There was no illegal activity, and no charges will be filed, Garcia said.

Continental spokeswoman Julie King would not discuss the disagreement but said in a statement that the situation was resolved.

Osteen took over his father's church in 1999 and since has increased its following to more than 30,000 worshippers weekly. The congregation meets in a renovated sports arena where the Houston Rockets once played.

Lakewood Church, which began in an abandoned feed store in 1959, spent more than 15 months and $75 million to turn the former arena into a church, complete with a bookstore, cafe, family life center and classrooms.

Osteen's sermons also are broadcast in cities throughout the country, and his book Your Best Life Now has become a best seller.

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