Government officials should encourage programs like Point of Connection

Point of Connection helps make its community safer. By providing shelter, assistance, and training at no cost to the taxpayer, Point of Connection is contributing to the overall well-being of its community.

“In transformational housing the goal is to give a person a place to live, but also to give them a new start with life in a positive direction,” said Neal Isley, President of Point of Connection.

Keisha Russell, Associate Counsel for First Liberty Institute, added “Ministries like Point of Connection help make communities safer. We’re confident the Planning Commission and Wallowa County will recognize what a tremendous service Point of Connection provides.” Russell continued, “The Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (“RLUIPA”) protects religious ministries like Point of Connection from government action that would burden their religious mission.”

Case History

Point of Connection has used its facility in the past, in accordance with the County’s previous approval as a “community center.” Neal Isley hosted events for up to two hundred members of the public and encountered no problems accommodating the parking demands associated with such events. Now, POC is merely looking to house 5-15 residents. This change required County approval. Wallowa County originally denied the conditional use permit application. After an appeal was filed, the county agreed to reconsider and the appeal was dropped. POC’s conditional use permit application is now being resubmitted to the Planning Commission with the assistance of First Liberty Institute and Schwabe, Williamson & Wyatt.

First Liberty Ready to defend Ministry’s land use rights

First Liberty Institute and its network attorneys at Schwabe, Williamson & Wyatt will monitor the process every step of the way to ensure County officials adhere to all federal and state laws, including RLUIPA which protect Point of Connection’s right to use its property in furtherance of its religious mission.

News Release
For Immediate Release: 5.14.19
Contact: Lacey McNiel,
Direct: 972-941-4453

Transformational Housing Nonprofit Wins Local Approval to Use its Own Property to Serve Community
First Liberty Institute client Point of Connection provides faith-based assistance for men recovering from addiction

Joseph, ORWallowa County (OR) officials have approved a permit for Point of Connection Ministries to use its own property to fulfill its religious mission.  First Liberty Institute and its network attorneys at Schwabe, Williamson & Wyatt assisted Point of Connection after the county denied the organization’s original application.

“Point of Connection is an essential part of meeting the needs of its community,” said Keisha Russell, Associate Counsel at First Liberty. “The faith-based transformational housing provided by Point of Connection to men who are becoming better and more productive citizens should be encouraged.  We are grateful to the planning commission for its support.”

Neal Isley, President of Point of Connection said, “I am thrilled that our ministry can now work to change even more lives and improve our community.  I’m eternally grateful to First Liberty for its tireless work on our behalf.”

Point of Connection is a local church that provides transformational housing, training, and holistic support to men recovering from addiction. With the commission’s approval, Point of Connection will be able to provide transformational housing for men that need ongoing support to address destructive life patterns.  Point of Connection’s transformational program, privately operated and faith-based, provides discipleship, mentoring, and training in life skills to help men make better life decisions. The support program prepares these men to return to the Wallowa community as productive citizens and good neighbors.

Watch the Point of Connection story here.


A PDF version of this news release is available here.

About First Liberty Institute

First Liberty Institute is a non-profit public interest law firm and the largest legal organization in the nation dedicated exclusively to defending religious freedom for all Americans.

To arrange an interview, contact Lacey McNiel at or by calling 972-941-4453.

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