New Hampshire Underground

New Hampshire Underground => General Discussion => Topic started by: SethCohn on January 12, 2016, 05:44 PM NHFT

Title: John Connell
Post by: SethCohn on January 12, 2016, 05:44 PM NHFT
RIP John Connell.
Title: Re: Was there a fire at Peaceful Assembly Church?
Post by: K neth on January 12, 2016, 06:19 PM NHFT
It's sad when the old and beautiful disappear. I'll always cherish my visit with John at the Church.
Title: Re: Was there a fire at Peaceful Assembly Church?
Post by: KBCraig on January 12, 2016, 07:26 PM NHFT
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TZycKIHo1ko
Title: Re: Was there a fire at Peaceful Assembly Church?
Post by: KBCraig on January 12, 2016, 07:30 PM NHFT
Just for more of the church, and because we also miss Lloyd:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EfdrTaRpYog
Title: Re: Was there a fire at Peaceful Assembly Church?
Post by: SethCohn on January 12, 2016, 07:47 PM NHFT
I can't bring myself to watch either of those right now, Kevin.  Too painful.
Title: Re: Was there a fire at Peaceful Assembly Church?
Post by: blackie on January 12, 2016, 08:07 PM NHFT
I guess the question is now about the memorial service.

When and Where?
Title: Re: Was there a fire at Peaceful Assembly Church?
Post by: MConnell on January 13, 2016, 12:05 AM NHFT
With heavy heart, I confirm that my father, John Joseph Isaac Connell, Pastor, Sexton, Caretaker of Peaceful Assembly Church, was found dead in the church today. Cause of death and cause of fire are still under investigation.
He remained focused on his mission to foster PEACE as prescribed by God. May he now rest in PEACE.
Title: Re: Fire at Peaceful Assembly Church in Grafton
Post by: Russell Kanning on January 13, 2016, 10:04 AM NHFT
I split the topic. This one can be for honoring John.
Title: Re: Fire at Peaceful Assembly Church in Grafton
Post by: Russell Kanning on January 13, 2016, 10:06 AM NHFT
We are trying to make arrangements to come there. I am in Alabama delivering a load right now. Kat and Kira are in Texas.
Title: My friend John
Post by: MaineShark on January 13, 2016, 10:42 AM NHFT
Thanks, Russell.  I was just about to start a new thread for the same reason.  I wanted to talk about my friend John, not the fire.  Not to ignore his death, but to make sure that the focus is on his life.

I'm not typically one for movie quotes as philosophy, but I was watching The Matrix Reloaded the other day, and one just jumped out at me.  I'd planned to stop by the PAC today to discuss it with John.  I can't, so I'm going to post it here.  Morpheus expresses his faith in the outcome of the upcoming battle, and is told, "dammit, Morpheus - not everyone believes what you believe."  Morpheus is a warrior, very unlike John in many ways, but his reply was a perfect John-ism: "my beliefs do not require them to."

It's easy to make those who share your beliefs comfortable; after all, you have a great deal of common ground.  John was able to reach out to those who did not share his beliefs, because his beliefs did not require that they do so.  He welcomed all peaceful people - even those not quite as peaceful as he was - regardless of why they were walking that path.  A number of people I know who are actively opposed to religion nevertheless found John approachable and a source of hope in these sometimes-dark times.  John was happy to "preach" to those who wanted preaching.  But, more importantly, John was able to simply live his beliefs, regardless of whether he was talking about them or not, and that's much more powerful and difficult.  Anyone can "talk the talk," but John actually "walked the walk."

I did not share John's faith.  And I also did not hate religion, so I can't tell some story about how I detested Christianity, and John opened my mind to the fact that "Christians aren't all bad" or somesuch.  Hopefully, some of those who were in that position will add their voices.  But I actually think how John and I interacted says more about him than those sort of situations might.  Convincing someone to make a big change is exciting and showy; going from "I hate you" to "I tolerate you" is a big jump.  If someone already starts out mostly agreeing with you, there can be a temptation to push them towards even more agreement.  After all, if you can make such a big jump with a stranger, you should be able to make a small change in a friend, right?

In all the years I've known him, John never - by word or deed - attempted to sway me towards his religion.  Not even once.  Some will say that they are living their lives according to some religion in order to be an example to others, but what they don't add is the silent, "so they will convert" at the end.  When it came to religion, John simply did live his life to be an example to others, without the silent, "and that'll convince 'em!" added.

That wasn't because John sat back and lazily let the cards fall where they would.  Instead, it's because John dedicated his energy to converting others to peace and forgiveness.  I'm going to distill scores of conversations, here, and say that what John understood as his duty to God was not to bring God more followers, but rather to bring human beings towards living in peace.  Much as a Ford dealer certainly wants to sell Fords, John certainly wanted to see folks choose Christianity.  But, just as an honest car dealer would send you somewhere else if they had a better and safer vehicle for your needs, John cared more about selling peace than about "brand loyalty."  If he only had sports cars on the lot, he didn't tell you to cram five kids into one; he told you that your family's safety was more important than a sale, and sent you to the dealer down the street who had station wagons.

In much the same way that we joke about how rare it is to find an honest car dealer, I would say that John was a very rare example among preachers.  To him, fostering peace in this world was his mission from God.  He felt the desire to convert others to the same faith he espoused, but he pushed down that desire in order to do something he felt was more important.

Regardless of whether Jesus was literally the "Son of God" or an rather interesting figure in a mythological story, his story is inspirational.  Here's someone who has divine power, and wants to convert others.  The Romans come to kill him, and he can miracle them to death right there, if he wants.  Defeating Rome's soldiers without suffering so much as a scratch would certainly win him many, many converts.  One man, defeating soldier after soldier, army after army, until the world's superpower admitted defeat?  No one could possibly doubt his divinity if he'd done such a thing.  But, more than followers, he wants peace.  So, even though he can spare himself a horrible death and pretty much convert the whole world to his faith if he turns down that road, he doesn't: he lets the soldiers take him.  He faces the choice between attaining all of his goals except one, or standing up honorably for his commitment to peace, and he chose to honor his commitment.  It's a powerful story, whether fictional or true.

John never faced a choice quite that hard.  But he's one of only a handful of people I've met who I think probably could have.  There's a power in that; not the power to smash through obstacles, but the power to let those obstacles smash into you if that's what it takes to walk the path you swore to walk.

John may or may not have helped anyone's faith in God, depending upon that individual's beliefs and life, but John helped many, many people to have, restore, or maintain their faith in humanity.  He was a man of honor, integrity, decency, and kindness.  The world is less today than it was yesterday but it is more than it was before he started his mission.

I'll miss the amusement I felt when a preacher would ask a dedicated agnostic for advice on some touchy issue.  And I'll miss the twinkle in his eye when we both simultaneously realized that a dedicated agnostic was asking a preacher for advice at a different point in that same conversation.  He may not have turned my life around, since we were both walking in roughly the same direction... but someone walking the same direction can lend you a hand when the path is steep and rocky, or a shoulder to lean on if you hurt your foot and need to limp for a bit; it's not as flashy, but it's no less important.  I'll miss his art and his love of music.

You were deeply loved, my friend, and you will never be forgotten by those who loved you.
Title: Re: Fire at Peaceful Assembly Church in Grafton
Post by: Jay on January 13, 2016, 01:46 PM NHFT
I only met him once briefly, and always wanted to take a trip to Grafton after that to talk with him some more after that. Oh well.
Title: Re: John Connell
Post by: Pat K on January 13, 2016, 04:56 PM NHFT
https://m.youtube.com/watch?list=PL220B1509B35400C2&v=ZYmP9ZRs-qg
Title: Re: John Connell
Post by: Russell Kanning on January 13, 2016, 05:20 PM NHFT
good one
Title: Re: John Connell
Post by: Tom Sawyer on January 13, 2016, 05:27 PM NHFT
Pastor killed in fire at 200-year-old church (http://www.salemnews.com/region/man-killed-in-fire-at--year-old-church/article_009eaf30-5190-515f-b886-5114ee5979ac.html)



Today: Authorities Say Church Pastor Died in Grafton Fire (http://www.vnews.com/home/20519479-95/today-authorities-say-church-pastor-died-in-grafton-fire)



Man Dies in Fire at Historic Grafton Church at Center of Tax Exemption Dispute (http://www.vnews.com/home/20503425-95/man-dies-in-fire-at-historic-grafton-church-at-center-of-tax-exemption-dispute)
Title: Re: John Connell
Post by: Russell Kanning on January 13, 2016, 06:40 PM NHFT
Interesting

really annoying when people complain about purple paint
they tried to give it to the boy scouts, headstart, and the town ..... nobody wanted it for free
then John paid for it except for the bell .... they were just leaving it for now
if they didn't want the building painted purple ... maybe they should not sell it. They like the 60k that went into their bank account for the old church
Title: Re: John Connell
Post by: Russell Kanning on January 13, 2016, 06:40 PM NHFT
lots of good comments of facebug
Title: Re: John Connell
Post by: KBCraig on January 13, 2016, 08:11 PM NHFT
lots of good comments of facebug

Many insane comments on WMUR.
Title: Re: Was there a fire at Peaceful Assembly Church?
Post by: KBCraig on January 13, 2016, 08:23 PM NHFT
I guess the question is now about the memorial service.

When and Where?

There may be more than one.

The only one I've seen announced so far is by Church of the Sword at Area 23 (254 No State St, Unit H (in the Smokestack Center) Concord, NH.), 11-1.


Title: Re: My friend John
Post by: KBCraig on January 13, 2016, 08:26 PM NHFT
Thanks, Russell.  I was just about to start a new thread for the same reason.  I wanted to talk about my friend John, not the fire.  Not to ignore his death, but to make sure that the focus is on his life.

Beautiful tribute.

I've pointed out many times that John didn't care if you worshipped 20 gods or no god, if you loved peace. He was unabashedly a Christian, but he probably had more atheists and agnostics among his "flock", than believers in any religion.
Title: Re: John Connell
Post by: MConnell on January 14, 2016, 09:57 PM NHFT
I am truly finding comfort and enjoying thread !  Thanks for continuing to share stories and memories ! 
Title: Re: John Connell
Post by: Tom Sawyer on January 14, 2016, 10:19 PM NHFT
Your Dad was very proud of you. I remember the way his eyes lit up when he was telling me about you.
Title: Re: John Connell
Post by: KBCraig on January 15, 2016, 12:26 AM NHFT
Memorial service announced by Maria:

Knights of Columbus Hall
94 Washington Square
Salem, MA

Sunday, 1/17/2016, Noon-3

Everyone welcome except John Redman (Maria didn't say that, but a little bird did. The little bird agrees with pretty much everyone who is mourning John.)
Title: Re: John Connell
Post by: KBCraig on January 15, 2016, 11:43 PM NHFT
Just posted to Facebook: I hope Maria doesn't mind me sharing it here.

http://odonnellfuneralservice.tributes.com/obituary/show/John-J.-Connell-103197519
Title: Re: John Connell
Post by: Becky Thatcher on January 17, 2016, 10:08 PM NHFT
I told Maria at John's memorial that I would put up a link for this song by Steve Earle and the Del McCoury Band called "Pilgrim".  Sounds like it was written for John.  Makes me cry every time I listen to it while also being incredibly uplifting. 

We miss you John.  Perhaps we'll meet again on some bright highway...

https://youtu.be/7UPlD2ITlS4
Title: Re: John Connell
Post by: Tom Sawyer on January 18, 2016, 04:05 AM NHFT
It was good to see so many people come out to show support for John's family and friends. He is indeed missed.
Title: Re: John Connell
Post by: jerryswife on January 18, 2016, 01:24 PM NHFT
I told Maria at John's memorial that I would put up a link for this song by Steve Earle and the Del McCoury Band called "Pilgrim".  Sounds like it was written for John.  Makes me cry every time I listen to it while also being incredibly uplifting. 

We miss you John.  Perhaps we'll meet again on some bright highway...

https://youtu.be/7UPlD2ITlS4

Nice tribute.
Title: Re: John Connell
Post by: Russell Kanning on January 22, 2016, 09:53 PM NHFT
It went well in Salem. We heard from his kids and friends. Some of his family were just unable to speak ... only tears.
I learned some things about John and there were many smiles.
Title: Re: John Connell
Post by: jerryswife on January 24, 2016, 09:26 AM NHFT
I was listening to NPR this AM and they were interviewing a guy who was framed for his mother's murder when he was 17 and spent 26 years in prison before he was exhonorated and after 6 years got an award of $7 million.  They asked him how he dealt with the anger and his reply made me think of  John.

You can't travel the road to peace without first crossing the bridge of forgiveness.
Title: Re: John Connell
Post by: Free libertarian on January 24, 2016, 09:35 AM NHFT
I was listening to NPR this AM and they were interviewing a guy who was framed for his mother's murder when he was 17 and spent 26 years in prison before he was exhonorated and after 6 years got an award of $7 million.  They asked him how he dealt with the anger and his reply made me think of  John.

You can't travel the road to peace without first crossing the bridge of forgiveness.


Good thoughts.   

 I will begin by forgiving you for listening to NPR.   (tee hee)
Title: Re: John Connell
Post by: Russell Kanning on January 24, 2016, 10:08 AM NHFT
good ones
Title: Re: John Connell
Post by: jerryswife on January 24, 2016, 04:35 PM NHFT


[/quote]
Good thoughts.   

 I will begin by forgiving you for listening to NPR.   (tee hee)
[/quote]

I was in the car, not a lot of choices on a Sunday morning...
Title: Re: John Connell
Post by: Tom Sawyer on January 24, 2016, 06:14 PM NHFT


Good thoughts.   

 I will begin by forgiving you for listening to NPR.   (tee hee)
[/quote]

I was in the car, not a lot of choices on a Sunday morning...
[/quote]


Denial is one of the signs of addiction.
Acknowledging one has a problem is the first step in overcoming one's problem.
 ;) >:D
"Hi, I'm a recovering Progressive."
Title: Re: John Connell
Post by: jerryswife on January 24, 2016, 07:27 PM NHFT
eooow, I have never ever been a progressive.  I was born a libertarian, I believe I questioned authority while still in the crib, and I never did go through that socialist thing.  In college I argued with my prof and railed against the crap by Galbraith we were forced to read.  But one does need to see what the other side is up to and occasionally NPR does have an interesting story although all too often I will found out later that it was a lie
Title: Re: John Connell
Post by: Free libertarian on January 24, 2016, 09:24 PM NHFT
eooow, I have never ever been a progressive.  I was born a libertarian, I believe I questioned authority while still in the crib, and I never did go through that socialist thing.  In college I argued with my prof and railed against the crap by Galbraith we were forced to read.  But one does need to see what the other side is up to and occasionally NPR does have an interesting story although all too often I will found out later that it was a lie


I know. Your libertarianism is not in question.

I was teasing you, because I'm like that...but the damn smiley emoticon was evading me.    Please forgive me. 

   
Title: Re: John Connell
Post by: jerryswife on January 24, 2016, 09:53 PM NHFT
i get that you were kidding.  I guess I should have included some emoticons.
Title: Re: John Connell
Post by: KBCraig on January 25, 2016, 01:57 AM NHFT
Duct tape warning:

http://www.unionleader.com/article/20160124/NEWS0606/160129363

Conflict between town and church at Grafton meeting following fatal fire
By DAN SEUFERT
Union Leader Correspondent

GRAFTON — Several people walked out Sunday during an emotionally charged meeting that included about 75 residents, two selectmen and the new board of directors of Peaceful Assembly Church, which suffered heavy damage in a Jan. 12 fire that killed its pastor.

The town’s planned seizure of the church’s deed for unpaid back taxes still loomed after the two-hour session, which began as a selectmen’s meeting, and then continued as a meeting between residents and church directors. Selectmen said they would take no action until all three selectmen could be present.

Dave Kopacz, new chairman of the church board, said the directors would pay the past taxes pending appeals in court; the church has argued it should be granted tax-exempt status.

“I will be making this payment, but I am not acquiescing that we owe taxes,” Kopacz said.

The building was purchased in 2010 by deceased pastor John Connell, who church officials said was a member of the Free State Project, several members of which had moved to Grafton in past decades.

The board of directors’ former chairman, Tom Ploszaj, confirmed that Connell had been asked by the board to leave the church in September “because he had mixed too much of his politics with the church,” Ploszaj said.

The cause of death for Connell, 57, who lived in the church, has not been released by state fire investigators.

Connell was still living in the church at the time of the fire “because we could not force him out; we believe in peace,” Ploszaj said.

During Sunday’s meeting, Kopacz had said there are “clear battle lines already drawn” in the town between church members and those against them. That led Selectman Merle Kenyon — who had just said he supported the idea of revitalizing the church — to say he took the words as “a personal affront.” He then left the meeting.

Kopacz explained that the church had a plan to pay the back taxes for the past two years — a little more than $6,000. He said the directors had investors who would be willing to pay the entire back tax bill of $13,853.

Several people left the meeting after one resident said she wasn’t happy that the group was opposed to paying its taxes as a traditional nonprofit group, and after Kopacz said “every penny” to pay the taxes would come from private citizens in Massachusetts. Residents were also upset when it was learned that the new board of directors was made up, in large part, of Massachusetts residents.

Another angry departure from the meeting came from a public school teacher after Kopacz, who said that he home-schooled his children, called public schools “re-education camps.”

Selectman Sean Frost — who left after the selectmen’s portion of the meeting — returned later, but left again telling the new church board that the church needed “to separate the politics from religion.”

Kopacz said the new church would provide new services, including a full food pantry for the town to use, a food kitchen and a public meeting place for town events.

Fire Chief John Babiarz, in answer to a question from the audience, said the church was thought to be unrepairable until the day after the fire, when, he said, investigators found it was in remarkably good shape.

“As sure as I’m standing before you, I see that church being rebuilt,” Kopacz said, adding that signs that Connell had posted in front of the 217-year-old church would be removed — the only point at which most of the audience applauded.
Title: Re: John Connell
Post by: Free libertarian on January 25, 2016, 03:21 AM NHFT

   Property tax is an oxymoron.   
Title: Re: John Connell
Post by: Jay on January 25, 2016, 05:58 AM NHFT
"The board of directors’ former chairman, Tom Ploszaj, confirmed that Connell had been asked by the board to leave the church in September “because he had mixed too much of his politics with the church,” Ploszaj said.

...

Connell was still living in the church at the time of the fire “because we could not force him out; we believe in peace,” Ploszaj said"

Something seems very wrong here...
Title: Re: John Connell
Post by: Tom Sawyer on January 25, 2016, 06:25 AM NHFT
eooow, I have never ever been a progressive.  I was born a libertarian, I believe I questioned authority while still in the crib, and I never did go through that socialist thing.  In college I argued with my prof and railed against the crap by Galbraith we were forced to read.  But one does need to see what the other side is up to and occasionally NPR does have an interesting story although all too often I will found out later that it was a lie


I know. Your libertarianism is not in question.

I was teasing you, because I'm like that...but the damn smiley emoticon was evading me.    Please forgive me. 

 

I'm so ashamed to admit that I secretly listen to NPR! Well, when I'm traveling in the car, I listen to a wide range of things. Some of the content I just have to turn the station, but some of it is interesting and worthwhile. 
Title: Re: John Connell
Post by: Tom Sawyer on January 25, 2016, 06:33 AM NHFT
Quote
“to separate the politics from religion.”

Now there is a problem.

"Hey that Jesus guy was OK until he decided to overturn the tables! If he would have just quietly done his little nonthreatening religious thing we wouldn't have had to nail him to a cross!"
Title: Re: John Connell
Post by: Russell Kanning on January 25, 2016, 08:30 AM NHFT
The board of directors’ former chairman, Tom Ploszaj, confirmed that Connell had been asked by the board to leave the church in September “because he had mixed too much of his politics with the church,” Ploszaj said.





spittin mad here
Title: Re: John Connell
Post by: Russell Kanning on January 25, 2016, 08:31 AM NHFT
don't you love it? you have a "town government" meeting where people are telling a church it should just pay its taxes and get out of politics

ever feel you are reliving a nazi police state?
Title: Re: John Connell
Post by: Jay on January 25, 2016, 09:45 AM NHFT
don't you love it? you have a "town government" meeting where people are telling a church it should just pay its taxes and get out of politics

ever feel you are reliving a nazi police state?

Call them Nazis or whatever, it's what the leaders of "civilization", the State, have been doing at a basic level for thousands of years. Even when it was more closely integrated with religion.

Ain't gonna change overnight, and it requires a certain kind of fortitude to even try and take on.
Title: Re: John Connell
Post by: Jay on January 25, 2016, 09:48 AM NHFT
I missed this part:

"adding that signs that Connell had posted in front of the 217-year-old church would be removed — the only point at which most of the audience applauded."

This is the kind of world we're dealing with...lol...
Title: Re: John Connell
Post by: Russell Kanning on January 25, 2016, 10:15 AM NHFT
they can forget John and get back to business as usual
Title: Re: John Connell
Post by: WithoutAPaddle on January 25, 2016, 10:48 AM NHFT

I was in the car, not a lot of choices on a Sunday morning...

I don't know the current, northern New Hampshire radio situation, but when I used to make my weekly evening trek through it in the 1970s, there were only two choices: WABC-New York (Dan Ingram and George "reverb" Michael) and WBZ-Boston (Guy Mainella, Jerry Williams, Larry Glick on weekdays, Ken Beatrice, Avi Nelson and Lovell Dyett on the weekends).  Boston had talk radio before there was even any such thing as talk radio.  The so-called "Fairness Doctrine" was trumped by Jerry Williams's own unfairness doctrine.
Title: Re: John Connell
Post by: WithoutAPaddle on January 25, 2016, 10:57 AM NHFT
...In college I argued with my prof and railed against the crap by Galbraith we were forced to read.

"If we were not in Vietnam, all that part of the world would be enjoying the obscurity it so richly deserves."

- John Kenneth Galbraith

Title: Re: John Connell
Post by: KBCraig on January 25, 2016, 09:05 PM NHFT
Thanks to Tony for the wonderful tribute, and many photos of the building over the years.

http://disobedient.me/2016/01/26/pastor-john-connell-and-peaceful-assembly-church/
Title: Re: John Connell
Post by: KBCraig on January 28, 2016, 07:44 PM NHFT
http://www.vnews.com/news/20753949-95/picking-up-the-pieces

Members of Burned Grafton Church Work to Keep, Fix Building

By Rob Wolfe
Valley News Staff Writer
Thursday, January 28, 2016
(Published in print: Thursday, January 28, 2016)

Grafton — An ongoing battle over taxes threatens to complicate plans to restore a historic church that burned earlier this month.

A Jan. 12 fire at the Peaceful Assembly Church severely damaged the 217-year-old structure on Route 4 and killed its founder , John Connell.

On Wednesday, Dave Kopacz, chairman of the church’s Board of Directors, said volunteers were coming from as far as Massachusetts to repair the damage. That work will include restorations to the second-floor sanctuary and the opening of a first-floor community center that could include a soup kitchen and meeting space, he said.

“We’ve taken a look at the building,” Kopacz said in a telephone interview, “and although it looks pretty bad, the building was built very sturdily and we’re looking forward to returning it to the way it was in its heyday.”

Looming over those plans is a Feb. 8 deadline to pay $6,000 in taxes needed to avoid confiscation by the town for non-payment of a nearly $14,000 account.

The outstanding bill is rooted in a long-running dispute over whether the church, as a religious institution, should be considered exempt from property taxes.

Town leaders repeatedly have denied the Peaceful Assembly Church’s applications for exemption, and church officials in August 2014 appealed the latest rejection in Superior Court.

Church members, many of whom are participants in the libertarian Free State Project, have painted the issue as a First Amendment right, referring to the protection of religious freedom afforded by the Constitution.

But in court filings, town officials have argued that the church’s lack of affiliation with any particular denomination, along with the informal qualifications of its late founder, disqualify it from exemption.

Beyond denying the tax requests, town officials have taken a laissez-faire attitude to the use of the church.

“I’m not sure if it’s a church or not,” Selectman Merle Kenyon said, “but other than that, anyone who wants to hang out there can do whatever they want.”

If the taxes aren’t paid by Feb. 8, the town could confiscate the property, Selectboard Chairman Sean Frost said, though he added that the decision whether to repair the church or sell it likely would come at Town Meeting, not from the Selectboard.

Given that the church, built in 1798, is “such a historical icon,” he said, “... we wouldn’t decide to rebuild it or decide to auction. That’s not a decision the Selectboard would make.”

Before the fire, Kopacz said in the Wednesday interview, he had a check in hand for the full $14,000; now, in part because of the anticipated cost of repairs, he is cutting a new one for $6,000.

Either way, he said, the payment of taxes does not mean he accepts the town’s decision not to grant an exemption.

“We aren’t acquiescing that the church owes the taxes,” he said, explaining that he was making the payment “essentially under duress to save the church.”

Wednesday afternoon, volunteers already were starting to clean up the mess left by the fire. Tom Ploszaj, a Grafton resident who was friends with Connell and who once served as a director, was outside shoveling away the remains.

Inside, the ground floor was covered in ice and scorched items. As Ploszaj showed a reporter through the building, he pointed out Connell’s bedroom, which adjoined the main meeting space and food pantry.

“I still miss him,” Ploszaj said of his friend. “I’m still getting over it.”

Upstairs, in the sanctuary, the pews were lit by a gaping hole in the west wall. A smoke-stained Bible sat on the lectern, the pages open to Genesis 5.

Ploszaj, who lived in Connecticut before retiring to the Granite State, said he had been disappointed to hear town officials focusing more on outstanding tax payments than on making plans with church directors for the building’s future.

“I’d always heard that New Hampshire was this place where people came together in a crisis,” he said. “I guess that wasn’t true.”

But Kenyon, who is the former Grafton police chief, countered that town officials were letting the church decide on its own arrangements.

“They say they’re going to keep it and try to rebuild it,” Kenyon said of the church directors, “and it’s their property. As long as they keep up with the taxes, that’s all we can ask for.”

He paused, and added, “We don’t have many historic buildings in town, and it’s right on the common, so it’s sort of sad to see it in the shape it’s in now.”

Ploszaj said assessors had estimated that basic structural repairs could cost as much as $30,000; a full restoration to working order likely will be in the six-figure range, he said.

Depending on the outcome of the court case, church leaders may get their tax exemption after all. A trial was scheduled for September, but has since been delayed.

The next hearing is set for 9 a.m. on Feb. 3 in Grafton Superior Court, where the two sides are scheduled to discuss their readiness for a trial.
Title: Re: John Connell
Post by: Russell Kanning on January 29, 2016, 09:26 AM NHFT
“They say they’re going to keep it and try to rebuild it,” Kenyon said of the church directors, “and it’s their property. As long as they keep up with the taxes, that’s all we can ask for.”

spoken as a true former public worker
Title: Re: John Connell
Post by: KBCraig on January 29, 2016, 11:32 AM NHFT
Here's what gets me about the taxes...that building hasn't been taxed since 1798. The town has never collected a penny from it. Tax exemption didn't change anyone else's taxes, nor the town budget, in any way.

They just saw it as an opportunity to pick up a few thousand bucks for "free", and have spent more on attorney fees than they will collect.

That's not stupidity. It's spite.
Title: Re: John Connell
Post by: MaineShark on January 29, 2016, 12:09 PM NHFT
They just saw it as an opportunity to pick up a few thousand bucks for "free", and have spent more on attorney fees than they will collect.

That's not stupidity. It's spite.

It wasn't even about the "free money."  As you noted, they spent more than they could have hoped to collect.  It was solely about the spite, from the very beginning.  It was not about getting more money for the town government; it was about taking money from the PAC, to punish the PAC.
Title: Re: John Connell
Post by: Tom Sawyer on January 29, 2016, 12:43 PM NHFT
Hey purple paint and peace signs can't be tolerated in Peyton Place Grafton.
Title: Re: John Connell
Post by: Jay on January 29, 2016, 04:39 PM NHFT
If I've learned anything about NH politics, is that each town has their own little corrupt club of sociopaths getting a government salary that utterly control everything in it. The only way things have ever made any headway is at the State legislature level. Throw the money and effort that way, if anything.
Title: Re: John Connell
Post by: Russell Kanning on January 29, 2016, 05:54 PM NHFT
my theory is that we can see the evil easier in each little town .... the corruption just gets worse on every level above this
Title: Re: John Connell
Post by: blackie on January 30, 2016, 04:23 AM NHFT
If I've learned anything about NH politics, is that each town has their own little corrupt club of sociopaths getting a government salary that utterly control everything in it. The only way things have ever made any headway is at the State legislature level. Throw the money and effort that way, if anything.
You are making friends with the wrong people. Also, the best use of money with corrupt people is bribes.

Having "friends" in the right places makes all the difference.

Blackmail also works well.
Title: Re: John Connell
Post by: Russell Kanning on January 30, 2016, 09:23 AM NHFT
I couldn't disagree more
Title: Re: John Connell
Post by: Jay on January 30, 2016, 11:55 AM NHFT
If I've learned anything about NH politics, is that each town has their own little corrupt club of sociopaths getting a government salary that utterly control everything in it. The only way things have ever made any headway is at the State legislature level. Throw the money and effort that way, if anything.
You are making friends with the wrong people. Also, the best use of money with corrupt people is bribes.

Having "friends" in the right places makes all the difference.

Blackmail also works well.

If you want to operate withing the current system and do your thing, perhaps.

If you're threatening their way of life with the ideas you are trying to spread, then that's not going to get you far.
Title: Re: John Connell
Post by: Tom Sawyer on January 30, 2016, 07:25 PM NHFT
A guy that tried to bring a little beauty and serenity into this world. Dang.  :'(
(https://scontent-lga3-1.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-xtf1/v/t1.0-9/12507389_10156473832855385_3531101193614046991_n.jpg?oh=f0d3592aa2df14ce62f77399e4db00a8&oe=5724B25F)
Title: Re: John Connell
Post by: Russell Kanning on January 30, 2016, 08:49 PM NHFT
yea it is shocking that some people didn't like the colors he was using on the church building ...... compared to what ... slowly falling apart?
Title: Re: John Connell
Post by: Dave Ridley on February 01, 2016, 10:10 AM NHFT
I noticed a few days ago that, unless I just missed it in my search, this issue hasn't even been discussed on free talk live yet.  I had not called in about it yet, because I figured they'd be all over it.   I don't think we want to be in a position where one of us dies mysteriously and (unless I missed it) we're not talking about it on our primary mass communication medium.   Especially since he did so much cool freedom stuff and was in the process of being punished for trying to preserve a piece of NH history.  We don't want to be talking only about our good news...like those awful USSA everytown "happy papers."

I'll try to call in about it if no one else does.
Title: Re: John Connell
Post by: Russell Kanning on February 01, 2016, 07:33 PM NHFT
I guess they are worried about other stuff
Title: Re: John Connell
Post by: blackie on February 02, 2016, 04:03 PM NHFT
If I've learned anything about NH politics, is that each town has their own little corrupt club of sociopaths getting a government salary that utterly control everything in it. The only way things have ever made any headway is at the State legislature level. Throw the money and effort that way, if anything.
You are making friends with the wrong people. Also, the best use of money with corrupt people is bribes.

Having "friends" in the right places makes all the difference.

Blackmail also works well.

If you want to operate withing the current system and do your thing, perhaps.

If you're threatening their way of life with the ideas you are trying to spread, then that's not going to get you far.
Human nature effects all systems. Past, present and future.

It doesn't matter what ideas you are trying to spread, it won't cancel out human nature.
Title: Re: John Connell
Post by: Jay on February 02, 2016, 08:30 PM NHFT
Human nature effects all systems. Past, present and future.

It doesn't matter what ideas you are trying to spread, it won't cancel out human nature.

Aut viam inveniam aut faciam.

I do not accept our present condition. I'm well aware, after a long internal struggle, that humanity acts like (or just plain IS) a bundle of turds in general.  And it would take seemingly more energy than exists in the universe to try and reverse the course of things. But I'd rather be thought of as stupid for trying than not trying...
Title: Re: John Connell
Post by: Russell Kanning on February 07, 2016, 07:04 PM NHFT
think of the effect John had on some people
Title: Re: John Connell
Post by: Tom Sawyer on March 26, 2016, 10:01 AM NHFT
So I was replying to runningwolfpigdogkenpo on the Youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wj1N3yfWESQ
I was not engaging in insults etc (unlike here) and he suddenly removed his comments. Of course mine went away as well.

Quote
   
runningwolfkenpo
+politicalGRAFFITI Yes, he was a con man and I am tired of doing this with you. He inherited that building.  He more than likely killed himself trying to burn it down.

It's funny, or maybe disturbing is a better term, how goofy the gossip must be among the haters. Yeah John was a con man, bush person who inherited the church.  ;D

Title: Re: John Connell
Post by: Jay on March 26, 2016, 02:14 PM NHFT
runningwolfkenpo appears to literally have nothing better to do in his life but troll the comments section in anything at all related to the FSP or FTL.
Title: Re: John Connell
Post by: Russell Kanning on March 26, 2016, 09:08 PM NHFT
yea .... not even a hint of truth
Title: Re: John Connell
Post by: Silent_Bob on March 26, 2016, 10:19 PM NHFT
runningwolfkenpo appears to literally have nothing better to do in his life but troll the comments section in anything at all related to the FSP or FTL.


Government paid troll...
Title: Re: John Connell
Post by: Jay on March 26, 2016, 11:10 PM NHFT
runningwolfkenpo appears to literally have nothing better to do in his life but troll the comments section in anything at all related to the FSP or FTL.


Government paid troll...

I know that on the Free Keene website commenting section he along with others they were using TOR and VPN's. Plus he doesn't seem to exist in real life.
Title: Re: John Connell
Post by: Russell Kanning on March 27, 2016, 04:32 PM NHFT
I could see that
Title: Re: John Connell
Post by: Dave Ridley on April 12, 2016, 05:02 AM NHFT
Still no word from the powers that be regarding what they think or claim happened?   Is that normal?  I did manage to bring this up on Free Talk Live and a quasilocal radio station last month.   I'm a publicizer...it's what I have to give.

Title: Re: John Connell
Post by: Tom Sawyer on April 12, 2016, 09:58 AM NHFT
Been wondering myself. Although arson is a very tough crime to prove.
Title: Re: John Connell
Post by: Russell Kanning on April 13, 2016, 10:42 AM NHFT
yea .... no word from anyone yet
Title: Re: John Connell
Post by: KBCraig on April 21, 2016, 11:13 PM NHFT
From Maria, via FB:

"It is possible the truth may never be known...Or take a heck of a long time to find out.... Says a grieving soul waiting for 3+ months for toxicology report for her Dad.... Not to mention, pending detetmination from fire marshall"
Title: Re: John Connell
Post by: Mark D. Jacobsen on April 22, 2016, 12:58 AM NHFT
Has anyone seen the building? Can it be saved?
Title: Re: John Connell
Post by: Dave Ridley on April 26, 2016, 12:45 PM NHFT
My understanding is that yes, the owners or whatever they are... are trying to save the building.
Title: Re: John Connell
Post by: Mark D. Jacobsen on April 28, 2016, 02:42 AM NHFT
Thanks. It's a funny thing that there is little fuss over death and destruction, like everyone gets confirmation bias or gets scared and clams up.
Title: Re: John Connell
Post by: Russell Kanning on April 29, 2016, 09:58 PM NHFT
well many of us didn't know what happened
if you want to follow the progress of the fixes .... look for Peaceful Assembly Church on facebug
Title: Re: John Connell
Post by: Mark D. Jacobsen on April 30, 2016, 04:28 AM NHFT
Thanks. I deactivated my fb profile.
Title: Re: John Connell
Post by: Jim Johnson on April 30, 2016, 09:33 AM NHFT
There is nothing over there.
Title: Re: John Connell
Post by: KBCraig on May 24, 2016, 03:23 PM NHFT
After all that, the town settles and agrees that the church doesn't owe taxes.

http://www.vnews.com/Grafton-Reaches-Tax-Agreement-With-Church-2348806

Grafton — Town officials and the Peaceful Assembly Church have settled a tax dispute in an agreement intended to help restore the fire-damaged building, which dates to 1798 and long served as Grafton’s meetinghouse.

Under the agreement, the parties agreed that Peaceful Assembly “is a regularly recognized and constituted religious creed and sect” and that the town will abate the full amount of taxes owed on the property at 860 Main St., also known as Route 4.

In return, Peaceful Assembly Church board members agreed to make the building weather tight by December; shingle the roof and complete all exterior work except windows by December 2017; and complete all exterior work by December 2019.

Selectman Merle Kenyon said on Monday the agreement, which the Selectboard signed last month, “was the fairest we could come up with (between) all the parties.

“It was to everyone’s advantage not to drag it out,” Kenyon said.

Peaceful Assembly board members signed the agreement this month.

“We’re really excited about it, and even more so in (agreement) with the town and the locals. We’re really glad to be putting this behind us,” said David Kopacz, the chairman of the board of Peaceful Assembly Church and a Massachusetts resident who owns retirement property in Grafton.

Town officials for several years had denied the church’s application, on religious grounds, for a property tax exemption, saying it was not affiliated with any particular denomination and was founded by a layman, John Connell. Some of its members were drawn to Grafton by the libertarian-minded Free State Project.

Connell, 57, died in a Jan. 12 fire that severely damaged the 217-year-old main church building. State officials are still investigating the cause of the fire.

The tax dispute had been in Grafton Superior Court, and town officials earlier this year contended that Peaceful Assembly owed nearly $14,000 in taxes and fees.

Under the agreement, prepared as a court filing, the town will abate the full amount of taxes and fees due, and the church agreed to make a payment in lieu of taxes of an equal amount if it doesn’t meet the repair deadlines set out in the agreement.

The town also agreed to forgive some $2,000 in attorney’s fees that a judge had awarded Grafton after Connell failed to attend a scheduled deposition.

The agreement stipulates that “each party believes strongly in the merit of their positions” but also wanted to avoid further expenses, litigation risk and “distraction.”

The agreement also noted that the building “has historically been a church and is an important landmark in the town of Grafton.”

Kenyon, the selectman, said Peaceful Assembly members had covered the damaged portions with a tarp and had a dumpster on site and are working to remove debris.

“They have covered the holes to keep the vandals and the morons out,” said Kenyon, a former town police chief.

For his part, Kopacz said Peaceful Assembly has been holding worship services at an outbuilding on the property and plans an open house for Grafton community members to discuss restoration of the church.

“We’re still trying to recover and stabilize the whole thing, and kind of get our feet back under us here. I’m really excited by the outreach I’ve seen from the community,” he said.

He also said he wants to make sure that the appropriate plaster is used in the restoration, to recreate what many members of past choirs had said were exemplary acoustics.

“The sounds that come out of that room are astonishing,” he said.

Kopacz was also heartened by what he initially thought was going to be a fruitless search for old growth American chestnut to repair the church. Then, a Grafton resident who been aided by Connell in the past reached out to Peaceful Assembly and offered the reclaimed wood from an 1800s barn he had taken down, made of chestnut.

“There is a very strong sentimentality and passionate attachment to this building,” Kopacz said. “This is going to be a community effort.”

John Gregg can be reached at jgregg@vnews.com or 603-727-3217.

Title: Re: John Connell
Post by: Jim Johnson on May 24, 2016, 03:38 PM NHFT
Do you think that they would have made the same deal with John? I don't think so.

This deal stinks of a subterfuge on the town's part.

There is no open reason for the town to give up money that it has fought for, or now to give up the "church" status.
Title: Re: John Connell
Post by: Tom Sawyer on May 24, 2016, 08:31 PM NHFT
Friggin' petty little assholes.
Title: Re: John Connell
Post by: Russell Kanning on May 25, 2016, 09:12 AM NHFT
exactly
I have realized more all the time that they want you to be a "recognized" religion. You can believe whatever you want as long as you obey all of their laws.
We read an interesting book called "The Heavenly Man" by Brother Yun from China. Some of the times he was in jail was only because he would not join the "Three Self Church" which was the officially recognized church by the government.
I think the John is receiving his rewards in the next life, since he was mistreated in this one, just as Jesus spoke about in the Sermon up on the Mountain.
Title: Re: John Connell
Post by: Free libertarian on May 25, 2016, 12:33 PM NHFT
 
Holding others property for ransom via a forcibly unilateral and mythical "social contract" is an act of extortion, regardless of the color of the costume of the thug(s).

Title: Re: John Connell
Post by: Russell Kanning on May 25, 2016, 12:52 PM NHFT
ya buddy
Title: Re: John Connell
Post by: KBCraig on May 25, 2016, 12:54 PM NHFT
Part of the agreement not mentioned in the article, is removal of all the colorful elements of John's art. The town didn't even want any purple trim to remain -- just a whitewashed "church".

Apply that phrase however you wish.
Title: Re: John Connell
Post by: Jim Johnson on May 25, 2016, 02:21 PM NHFT
Part of the agreement not mentioned in the article, is removal of all the colorful elements of John's art. The town didn't even want any purple trim to remain -- just a whitewashed "church".

Apply that phrase however you wish.

No friend of John's would agree to that horse shit.
Title: Re: John Connell
Post by: Russell Kanning on May 25, 2016, 02:46 PM NHFT
how lovely
Title: Re: John Connell
Post by: Russell Kanning on May 25, 2016, 04:34 PM NHFT
btw .... the town was offered the church building for free by the outgoing church before John bought it
Title: Re: John Connell
Post by: Jay on May 26, 2016, 10:31 AM NHFT
Part of the agreement not mentioned in the article, is removal of all the colorful elements of John's art. The town didn't even want any purple trim to remain -- just a whitewashed "church".

Apply that phrase however you wish.

No friend of John's would agree to that horse shit.

Apparently Grafton has a worse form of zoning: a secret Homeowners Association run by the Selectmen.
Title: Re: John Connell
Post by: Russell Kanning on May 27, 2016, 07:13 PM NHFT
exactly
Title: Re: John Connell
Post by: Tom Sawyer on May 28, 2016, 10:12 AM NHFT
I hope they realize that the ghost of John Connell will not be able to rest and will forever haunt the building.
Title: Re: John Connell
Post by: Dave Ridley on June 13, 2016, 09:54 AM NHFT
What has in been now...three months?  And (unless I'm missing something) *still* no further report what they think happened? 
Title: Re: John Connell
Post by: Free libertarian on June 13, 2016, 02:53 PM NHFT
What has in been now...three months?  And (unless I'm missing something) *still* no further report what they think happened?

   I've heard zippo about any findings.  Is there any kind of ahem "ongoing investigation" ?
Title: Re: John Connell
Post by: Tom Sawyer on June 13, 2016, 03:54 PM NHFT
What has in been now...three months?  And (unless I'm missing something) *still* no further report what they think happened?

   I've heard zippo about any findings.  Is there any kind of ahem "ongoing investigation" ?

They (who ever "they" are) refused to comment due to the "ongoing investigation".

Yeah, I keep wondering what happened to John.
Title: Re: John Connell
Post by: Russell Kanning on June 13, 2016, 08:50 PM NHFT
and I regret talking to the investigator, since he is like all the other government bureaucrats .... useless or worse

Just came from my friends memorial service in Apple Valley CA. Jay Stewart
beware any of my friends .... I have lost 2 of my best friends this year.
Title: Re: John Connell
Post by: blackie on June 13, 2016, 10:12 PM NHFT
If they think John started the fire(suicide), they probably won't ever release a final public report.

John came to visit me in Maine for a week last September. I tried to get him involved in the medical marijuana industry, but he really didn't want to leave NH.

 We went to visit dagget rock, and Eastman park (https://www.facebook.com/Eastman-Park-296757713860491/).

(https://media-cdn.tripadvisor.com/media/photo-s/05/4c/86/54/daggett-rock.jpg)

I think I am going to hold my own memorial service in Philips Maine for John this week.


Title: Re: John Connell
Post by: Tom Sawyer on June 13, 2016, 10:18 PM NHFT
Good on you.
Title: Re: John Connell
Post by: Dave Ridley on June 14, 2016, 05:42 AM NHFT
Wow thank you blackie...
Title: Re: John Connell
Post by: Russell Kanning on June 15, 2016, 10:22 PM NHFT
many good memories of John this week as we buried another of my best friends.
Title: Re: John Connell
Post by: KBCraig on January 12, 2017, 11:28 AM NHFT
Thinking of John today, and all those we've lost much too soon.
Title: Re: John Connell
Post by: Tom Sawyer on January 12, 2017, 12:29 PM NHFT
Thinking of John today, and all those we've lost much too soon.

Yeah, I remember John often.

Among the others I've lost. One of the drags getting older.
Title: Re: John Connell
Post by: Russell Kanning on January 12, 2017, 10:34 PM NHFT
yep
Title: Re: John Connell
Post by: Dave Ridley on February 07, 2017, 07:45 AM NHFT
sigh
Title: Re: John Connell
Post by: Russell Kanning on February 09, 2017, 10:08 AM NHFT
a few kind words were spoken last night at our dinner about John