Local Crime News

A Look Inside: Circle of Hope Girls Ranch

Boyd and Stephanie Householder

Boyd Clifton Householder was born in 1949. He is a Vietnam Veteran. From July 2001 to Jun 2006, Boyd was Ranch Manager and Dean of Staff at Agape Boys Ranch in Stockton, Missouri. Boyd also reportedly worked at another boarding school in Florida.

According to a 2011 article in The Springfield News-Leader, Boyd was a rebellious teenager who said he joined the Marine Corps because he was “tired of taking orders and didn’t want to get a hair cut.”

Stephanie Householder was born in 1965 and reportedly grew up in a rough family, losing her dad at a young age. Stephanie joined the Navy after college, which lead to Boyd and Stephanie meeting at Bethesda Naval Hospital where Boyd was stationed and Stephanie was a patient.

After a quick engagement, the two worked as house parents at a school in Florida. We believe according to a birth announcement that they had a son in 1999 and Boyd was going by the name Boyd Clifton. Stephanie’s name was listed in another paper as Stephanie Anne Turley Householder.

Later, Boyd and Stephanie moved to Stockton where Boyd worked at Agape Boarding School and Stephanie worked at Refuge, a home for girls.

Circle of Hope Girls Ranch Nonprofit

Circle of Hope Girls Ranch and Boarding Schools was registered as a Nonprofit Corporation on August 30th, 2006 by Boyd C. Householder. According to the Articles of Incorporation, Circle of Hope’s purpose was “To open a youth rescue program, which will work with troubled and rebellious young girls.”

By January of 2007, Boyd registered Circle of Hope as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit and stated in the Articles of Amendment that “The organization is organized exclusively for charitable, religious and educational purposes.”

In August of 2007, Boyd filed the corporation’s Annual Registration Report. Notably, Circle of Hope now had a Board of Directors. These board members were Kenneth Smith of Winchester, VA, Robert Householder of Winston-Salem, NC and Jeffrey Ables of Springfield, MO. In 2009, David Hyles of Orange Park, FL was added as a board member of Circle of Hope as was Christopher Allison of Fair Grove, MO.

By 2010, two more board members were added, William Marshall of St. Joseph, MO and Daniel Tidd of Indianapolis, IN.

In 2014, Robert Householder was listed as Secretary of Circle of Hope and the Board of Directors was made up of Kenneth Smith, Jeffrey Ables, William Marshall, and Daniel Tidd.

This board maintained for quite a few years except for Robert Householder who passed away in 2016. Ben Forrester of Springfield, MO became the new secretary.

As of the latest Registration Report in 2020, Boyd C Householder remains president, Donald Woodard of Troutville, VA is the Secretary, and Daniel Tidd, William Marshall, and Delbert White, of Carrollton, Texas, are Directors. According to Circle of Hope’s form 990 filings, these Directors did not receive any compensation. Boyd Householder was paid $12,995 as CEO.

The address used by this corporation has stayed as 20285 E Highway N, Humansville, MO although it was written as “200285” for quite some time.

Circle of Hope Early Years

Thanks to the Way Back Machine, there is a lot of information that can be found about Circle of Hope from 2008 on, or at least what information they wanted to put out about themselves.

According to the Circle of Hope Website, they sincerely desire to encourage and nurture respect, self-discipline, leadership, and creativity in the young child’s life, whether academic, religious, social, athletic or extracurricular.

Admission

Parents interested in enrolling a student in Circle of Hope must first request an application and a Parent Handbook. COH lays out the following Policies for Admission:

  • Enrollment Term – The minimum enrollment term for Circle of Hope “Boarding School” is 24 months.
  • Medical/Dental – Medical coverage is a must. Each student application should include medical proof that the child has tested negative for Tuberculosis within the past 6 months. A physical exam should be conducted annually.
  • Eyes – If your child wears glasses, please send an extra pair or the prescription for them. This will save time.
  • Prescription drugs – Circle of Hope does not admit students who are consuming behavior modification drugs.
  • Church/Chapel Attendance – All students of Circle of Hope are required to attend all Church/Chapel services required by Circle of Hope administration. Your child will receive Biblical Instruction daily.

What to Expect

A few quotes pulled from the 2008 version of the Circle of Hope website under the “What to Expect” section.

Your child will learn to obey authority. They will have to wear different clothing than before. Your child will be required to exercise good manners. This, along with the new environment and the different peer pressure, will soon begin to change their behavior. Within just a few weeks they will seem like a different child. Your child will appear to be totally changed from the person they were before arriving at Circle of Hope Girls’ Ranch. It is our goal that within just a short time your child will gain a new vision and goal concerning education and see that they are important. They will begin to see that a good education and a close relationship with God can change the way they feel about their future, their family and themselves.

Please keep one very important thing in mind at this time, Circle of Hope can easily change your child’s outward appearance in a very short time. We can train them to behave in a proper, acceptable manner. But their heart is something that cannot be changed overnight. As a matter of fact, in some cases we have not been able to impress a child enough to change their heart. If their heart remains unchanged, the outward appearance is a not a true reflection of their “real self.” The Bible says, “as he thinketh in his heart, so is he.”

Time after time we have witnessed the circumstance of very loving parents coming to visit their child and assuming from their behavior and appearance, some miracle has taken place and they are ready to return home. We are fully aware of the strong desire you have as a parent to have your child back home. We must warn you now: You will want to take her home after the first visit, but please believe us when we say that we’ll know when her heart has changed,  and we’ll tell you when it is time for her to leave us and return to the home in which she longs to be. Until then, please do not even discuss the subject with her – it will only make things more difficult than they already are.

Discipline

It is clear that there was a large focus on discipline at Circle of Hope. On their website, they state that they use the following forms of disciplines that are used to help each student: Push-ups (along with other exercises), writing, work detail, no taking, and time outs. According to COH, this discipline is used to help the student obey, not to punish them.

Biblical discipline is essentially a character-building tool. It is concerned with developing the character of Christ in a person’s life. Emphasis is placed on the development of individual Christian character traits such as neatness, orderliness, promptness, and courtesy. We try to develop a respect for authority and the rights of others and, therefore, Biblical discipline is exercised by applying appropriate justice.

Curriculum

On the COH website, not much detail is gone into about academics aside from pointing out that they are not a regionally accredited school and that parents must do their own due diligence to make sure that credits transfer. COH also had the following disclaimer on the Curriculum page:

 I understand that in conjunction with the Program, the Child will engage in various strenuous activities including, but not limited to: sporting activities, physical exercise and calisthenics, boating, swimming, and horseback riding. I further understand that in conjunction with the Program the Child will engage in less strenuous activities including, but not limited to: cleaning and performing various chores. I further understand that the Child may participate in construction work and activities related to physical plant maintenance. I further understand that in conjunction with the Program the Child may interact and work with various livestock and other animals, including exotic animals, and participate in the husbandry and care of all such animals. I further understand that all activities engaged in by the Child in conjunction with the Program contain an inherent risk of physical harm or injury. I will hold harmless and indemnify Circle of Hope Girls’ Ranch and Boarding School, its agents, employees and volunteers for any physical harm or injury suffered by the Child while engaging in any activities in conjunction with the Program.

Community Connections

In a 2011 article in The Springfield News-Leader, Boyd and Stephanie Householder say they have never advertised their school but get a lot of referrals from churches. Stephanie Householder is quoted as saying “We figure that if the Lord wants us to have a girl he’ll send her.”

Berean Baptist Church

Further in this article is a note that there will be a benefit bike ride to raise money for the Circle of Hope Girls ranch. The Big 50 Bike Ride was hosted by Berean Baptist Church of Springfield, Missouri and had an estimated 35 churches participating.

The Pastor of Berean Baptist Church, Jeffrey Ables was a Director of Circle of Hope for many years. Ben Forrester, Secretary for a time at Circle of Hope, is also a Secretary and Director for Berean Baptist Church. Ben’s brother-in-law, Christopher Allison, is also a member of Circle of Hope’s Board of Directors.

Do I need to get out the red string for this mess?

I would be very interested to know how many girls were recommended to Circle of Hope by Berean Baptist Church in Springfield.

A few fun notes about the beliefs of the Berean Baptist Church:

  • We believe that any form of homosexuality, bisexuality, bestiality, incest, fornication, adultery, and pornography are sinful perversions of God’s gift of sex.
  • Any employee of the church, as well as any person in a position of leadership, becoming pregnant or causing pregnancy as a result of consensual intercourse, outside of the marriage relationship, shall be terminated from employment or their position. Further, any employee of the church or any person in a position of leadership within the church that is involved in the activities outlined in this section (N), shall be terminated or relieved of their position.
  • We believe that the only legitimate marriage is the joining of one man and one woman.
  • The husband is to be the leader of the home and men are to be the leaders (pastors and deacons) of the church. Accordingly, only men are eligible for licensure and ordination by the church
  • The husband is to be the leader of the home and men are to be the leaders (pastors and deacons) of the church. Accordingly, only men are eligible for licensure and ordination by the church
  • Abortion constitutes the unjustified, unexcused taking of unborn human life. Abortion is murder. We reject any teaching that abortions of pregnancies due to rape, incest, birth defects, gender selection, birth or population control, or the mental well being of the mother is acceptable

Riverside Baptist Church

William Marshall, Pastor of Riverside Baptist Church in Saint Joseph, Missouri is also a member of the Circle of Hope Board of Directors. Riverside Baptist Church previously was known as Bible Baptist Temple until 2018.

The Riverside Baptist Church supports the following beliefs of note:

  • We believe that God has commanded that no intimate sexual activity should be engaged outside of a one-man, one-woman marriage. We believe that any form of adultery, fornication, homosexuality, lesbianism, bi-sexuality, bestiality, incest and pornography are sinful perversions of God’s gift of sex. We believe a person is born male or female and that they are male or female all their lives, no matter what outward changes might be made to their bodies.
  • We believe that human life begins at conception and that the unborn child is a living human being. Abortion constitutes the unjustified, unexcused taking of unborn human life. Abortion is murder. We reject any teaching that abortions of pregnancies due to rape, incest, birth defects, gender selection, birth or population control, or the mental well being of the mother are acceptable.
  • We believe that music must be directly related to our understanding of the holiness of God. Our praise and worship of God through music, consisting of hymns and spiritual songs, must therefore be acceptable to a Holy God and must not be tainted nor polluted with any of the characteristics of carnal, worldly music which appeal to and stimulate carnal reactions. We therefore reject the Contemporary Christian Music (CCM) movement.

Berean Baptist Church of Orange Park, Florida

David Hyles, former Board Member of Circle of Hope needs only a google search to begin to uncover the allegations and rumors that have followed him throughout his career.

We are working to verify some of the allegations regarding David Hyles and will update this article as we find out more.

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

Online Sources
IRS Copies of 990 Returns for Circle of Hope Girls Ranch and Boarding Schools, years 2017-2020
WayBackMachine – Circleofhopegirlsranch.org archives
Media Sources
Chucklestravels Article from June 28th, 2011

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