Press Releases

Pastor Hosting Religious Gatherings in Home Responds to Town’s Legal Threats

March 7, 2024

News Release
 For Immediate Release: 3.7.24
Contact: John Manning,
Direct: 972-941-4453

Pastor Hosting Religious Gatherings in Home Responds to Town’s Legal Threats

The Town of Weare targets religious assembly while turning a blind eye to comparable secular activity.

Weare, NH—First Liberty Institute, prominent law firm King & Spalding LLP, and the Law Offices of Marbury & Marbury, PLLC, as pro bono counsel, filed a preliminary injunction against the town of Weare, New Hampshire, claiming it violated the law when by requiring an expensive and onerous site review plan before the pastor could use his own home and property to host religious gatherings.

You can read the motion here.

“Hundreds of thousands of Americans meet every day in homes for prayer meetings, Bible studies, book clubs, card games, and other gatherings.  Why would Weare city officials demand this small church stop meeting in the pastor’s home, but ignore Super Bowl parties and political gatherings?” asked Jeremy Dys, Senior Counsel for First Liberty Institute. “Since the day the First Amendment became law all people of faith have been granted the right to worship and pray in their home with like-minded people.”

“In the United States, the tradition of using individual homes for religious gatherings—even formal church services—has garnered special solicitude under the law,” said King & Spalding partner Sean Royall.  “The suit is about protecting that legal right for all faiths.”

Pastor Howard Kaloogian founded Grace New England Church in his home as a church plant. He welcomes people in his home and occasionally holds social gatherings for invited guests. In October of 2023, he received a “Cease and Desist” notice from the Town of Weare stating, “you are to immediately stop any assembly regarding Grace New England Church. This Cease and Desist will remain in effect until a site plan is submitted, reviewed and there is a decision made by the Town Planning Board.” Pastor Kaloogian was also warned that unless he was in full compliance of the order, penalties would apply. Even though Weare’s zoning permits churches to exist as a matter of right, the Town informed him that, without a site plan, he would not be permitted to use his home to hold church services.

The complaint states that “the First Amendment’s guarantee to ‘free exercise’ is inviolate in one’s home and cannot be dismissed at the request of a town’s zoning officer. The demand to ‘Cease and Desist…any assembly regarding Grace New England Church’ directly implicates the First Amendment’s ‘right of the people peaceably to assemble.’”


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 John Manning at or by calling 972-941-4453.

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