A church in Louisville, Ky., ordained a registered sex offender Sunday despite protests from the some in the surrounding community.
Prior to joining The City of Refuge Worship Center, where he was ordained this past Sunday morning, Mark Hourigan had been charged with sodomy, sexual abuse and intimidation of an 11-year-old boy back in 1998.
Following his release from prison in 2006, Hourigan joined City of Refuge and eventually led praise and worship after the Lord touched his heart, according to the Rev. Randy Meadows, City of Refuge's senior minister.
"No way shape or form does the City of Refuge Worship Center or I as a pastor, condone what Hourigan did 10 years ago. But this man has proven himself and paid his debt to society," Meadows told the local WLKY news station.
Despite assurances by the pastor and an agreement that Hourigan was to sign barring him from ministering to children, some church attendants and members of the community say Hourigan's ordination concerns them and even "scares" them.
"It's wonderful that he's a member of this church, but he does not need to be ordained as a minister with that kind of position or authority... it's wrong," Rochelle Fournier, a member of the Survivor's Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP), told a local ABC affiliate in Louisville.
In a statement Sunday, SNAP members said the ordination would be "a reckless move that will only put kids in harm's way."
"SNAP is convinced that a truly remorseful and 'reformed' sex offender would not even seek a position like minister, just as a truly repentant and sober alcoholic wouldn't seek a job in a tavern," they added.
On Friday, SNAP sent a letter to the Lexington-based Kentucky Council of Churches, urging it to speak out against Hourigan's ordination.
The organization also held a news conference outside the church last Thursday asking that the congregation delay its planned ordination and hold an open public meeting before making a final decision.
SNAP reportedly did not receive replies to any of their objections.