Liberty Church Burns in Grafton; Pastor Dies Inside

Peaceful Assembly Church Burning

Photo Courtesy Peter Bosse

The founder of the Peaceful Assembly Church, Pastor John Connell was one of the earliest movers to New Hampshire as part of the Free State Project. He was well known and loved among the liberty community and was truly a man who walked the walk when it came to advocating and embodying peace. He truly was an inspiration.

It’s confirmed by his daughter that John died today in a fire that burned up his church in Grafton, which had been in the middle of a court case seeking tax exemption. One body, yet to be officially identified, was found. It’s unlikely to be anyone but John, who lived on the property, and has not been heard from since. He will be missed, and fondly remembered.

John Connell

Pastor John Connell

John was known for his peaceful demeanor, infectiously jovial personality, regular attendance at activist events including jury nullification outreach, excellent guitar playing, and his regular updates sent via Porc 411.

At least as far back as 2011, the government in Grafton continued to deny John’s church a tax exemption, despite the fact that the Peaceful Assembly Church is an actual church building and that regular services were held there. Though he faced ongoing frustration with the town government, John never soured personally. He remained steadfast and of peace.

John was a true example to those of us who ultimately founded the Shire Free Church, which was highly inspired by John and the Peaceful Assembly Church. We will continue to carry on his message of forgiveness and mission of fostering peace in his absence.

Here’s an interview with John that Liberty on Tour conducted in 2011, inside the church:

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