Boys ranch near Harrison damaged

Independence Hall at Boys Ranch near Harrison.

Editor's Note: This story is being updated. Most recent update was at 12:30 p.m., Friday, April 3:

HARRISON – Several buildings at the Arkansas Baptist Boys Ranch near Harrison were damaged after storms raked through northern Arkansas April 2-3. No injuries were reported.

The boys ranch is a ministry of the Arkansas Baptist Children’s Homes and Family Ministries (ABCHomes).

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‘Religious freedom bill’ draws protests in Arkansas, Indiana; new bill approved

This is an excerpt of a story to be published in the April 9 edition of the Arkansas Baptist News. Subscribe here.

LITTLE ROCK – A bill intended to protect religious freedom has met the wrath of homosexual and transgender people in Arkansas, with those who opposed its passage saying the bill allows businesses to openly discriminate by refusing services.

After Arkansas House Bill 1228, referred to as the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), received final approval by legislators, it drew a torrent of protestors to the Capitol and criticsm from one of the state’s largest economic forces, Walmart.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson, who earlier had said that he would sign the bill into law, held a press conference April 1 asking that legislators amend the bill to reflect terms of the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

The governor asked that HB1228 be recalled so amendments could be added that would bring it closer to the federal law and clarify its intent.

"The bill that is on my desk at the present time does not precisely mirror the federal law,” said the governor, adding that if necessary an executive order could be used “to make it clear that Arkansas wants to be a place of tolerance.”

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Glorieta suit dismissed, notice of appeal filed 

Marty King
LIfeWay Christian Resources

NASHVILLE (BP) – The U.S. District Court for New Mexico has dismissed all claims of misconduct against LifeWay Christian Resources, the Southern Baptist Convention and its Executive Committee, and the Glorieta 2.0 ministry that bought Glorieta Conference Center from LifeWay 18 months ago.

Federal Judge James O. Browning issued the rulings in a suit waged by an Arkansas couple, Kirk and Susie Tompkins, who had been leaseholders at the conference center. Within hours of the ruling, the Tompkins filed notice of appeal to the U.S.  Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit in Denver, Colorado.

Browning’s ruling came in five separate orders totaling 71 pages, including an order last September that dismissed several named defendants.

One of Browning’s  March 31st rulings states: "The Court cannot find any factual allegations from which it can infer that the individual defendants are liable for the misconduct alleged. Indeed, the Tompkins fail to identify an act by any of the defendants to allow for such an inference. They do not state a plausible claim."

The ruling concludes: “the Court finds the Tompkins have failed to assert claims upon which relief can be granted for lack of factual allegations … (and) for want of standing.” The case was dismissed with prejudice and cannot be re-filed.

LifeWay President and CEO, Thom S. Rainer, said, “This is incredible news. I thank God for his goodness.”

“This process has been extended, painful, and costly. I am so thankful to get this ordeal behind us, leaving no doubt of our integrity throughout this process, and after so many months of baseless attacks on our ministry partners, trustees and executive leadership,” Rainer said.

The Tompkins, of Little Rock, filed the lawsuit in September 2013 claiming the 2,400-acre property near Santa Fe was not properly transferred and that LifeWay, Glorieta 2.0 and Executive Committee leadership improperly handled the sale. 

Last September, federal magistrate Robert Hayes Scott recommended dismissal of all claims in a 79-page  document prepared for the federal district court in Albuquerque where the lawsuit was filed. Scott wrote that he found no evidence of misconduct in the Glorieta sale.

Scott, in his role as a magistrate for the federal court, disagreed with the Tompkins’ contentions in his recommendations to dismiss their lawsuit. "The transfer of Glorieta by LifeWay was not fraudulent," Scott wrote. "... [A]llegations of fraud and misconduct are baseless and have no foundation in the evidence."

Browning declined, however, to award LifeWay attorney fees for defending against the Tompkins’ suit.

At the time of the Glorieta sale to the nonprofit Glorieta 2.0 group, 65 churches, institutions and individuals owned structures on year-to-year leased lots at Glorieta. Rainer reported to the 2014 Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting that Glorieta 2.0 offered to extend the year-to-year leases or purchase structures built there for up to $100,000, which all but a handful of leaseholders accepted.


Marty King is director of corporate communications for LifeWay. Art Toalston of Baptist Press contributed to this story.


Arkansas disaster relief deployment not necessary following recent storms

"Thank the Lord we have missed the bullet again," said Randy Garrett, Arkansas Baptist State Convention disaster relief (DR) director.

While high winds and hail impacted parts of northern Arkansas March 25, Garrett said that following damage asessment by DR volunteers, no Arkansas DR teams were deployed.

According to CNN reports, one person was killed and more than two dozen people were injured as the storm drove through Oklahoma.

Oklahoma's Southern Baptist DR teams responded to affected areas including Moore, Okla. and Tulsa, Okla. March 25, according to The Baptist Messenger, the state Baptist newspaper of Oklahoma.

Garrett told the Arkansas Baptist News that Oklahoma Baptists have not solicited the assistance of other DR teams within their region at this time.


Kisors recover after motorcycle accident

Howard Kisor Jr. and his wife, Mary, have been released from the hospital and are recovering from multiple injuries sustained in a motorcycle accident March 20.

Howard Kisor is pastor of Crow Mountain Baptist Church in Russellville and former associational missionary for Arkansas River Valley Baptist Association. Mary Kisor is a member of the Arkansas Baptist News board of directors.

Mary Kisor said she and her husband were riding on River Road in Pottsville when the accident occurred. She has a broken foot and multiple bruises. Howard Kisor sustained three broken ribs, a concussion, an abrasion on his lung, a small bleed in the brain that healed and a torn artery below his spleen.

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