Koinonia Farm-Habitat for Humanity Birthplace

Doc Lawrence

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Welcome to Koinonia!Koinonia Farm

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Koinonia Staff and Guests are Happy PeopleKoinonia Farm

By Doc Lawrence

With its extended horizons, South Georgia qualifies as a version of big sky country. Farmers say that nearly every plant will grow and prosper in the fertile soil. The Florida Aquifer, the world’s largest, runs under the fields, assuring abundant water. The region has produced some legends from Ray Charles, Jazz vocalist Joe Williams, Nobel Laureate Jimmy Carter and a man not so widely known, Reverend Clarence Jordan, the principal founder of Koinonia Farm.

Koinonia Farm was created in 1942 as an experiment in Christian living. Over the years, it has not only seen change, but has been part of the evolution from the dark days of racial intolerance to a more enlightened social environment enjoyed today. Clarence Jordan was born in Talbotton, Georgia, educated at the University of Georgia and earned a doctorate in ancient Greek and by all accounts, was a driven man, motivated by New Testament principles, particularly the Sermon on the Mount.

For posterity, Clarence Jordan left his translation of the New Testament Gospels from ancient Greek into the vernacular of the Deep South, a collection called Cotton Patch Versions. These would become an Off-Broadway hit musical, “Cotton Patch Gospel,” performed throughout the country for over three decades.

Koinonia Farm embodies the highest principles. The birthplace of Habitat for Humanity, a refuge for anyone needing protection and welcoming arms, it is a place where the land is honored by sustainable agricultural practices, and where financial survival is contingent on the sale of wholesome products.

Jordan’s mission lives on. “The Red Cross asked us to take 20 refugees from Hurricane Michael,” according to Bren Dubay, who oversees Koinonia, “and we were happy to welcome them.”

Today, Koinonia provides clothing and other necessities for inmates at Stewart Detention Center in nearby Lumpkin, Georgia, a prison-like facility packed with people scheduled for deportation. For over 70 years, Koinonia has been known for outreach and shelter. Vivian Robinson is the executive assistant to the president of the United Methodist Children’s Home in Tucker and grew up 28 miles from Koinonia Farm in nearby Terrell County during a time of unspeakable racial violence. Her church was burned into rubble by the Ku Klux Klan. The community, she revealed, knew Koinonia by its good reputation, and “if African-Americans felt they could not be safe within this community, they would not be safe anywhere.”

The era of cross burnings and shootings is hopefully over. As attitudes have changed, the farm and its activities have earned a special status, becoming a living shrine for human rights, healthy daily living and the healing power of faith. Admirers are many: “We have visitors from all over the world,” Bren Dubay said.

Walking around the farm is a joyous experience. The pecan orchard is peaceful and lovely. The crops are neat and well-tended, the laughter of children blends into the breezes, grass-fed livestock roam freely and the chickens lay eggs for the next day’s breakfast. Meals are family affairs where you sit together, begin with a blessing, converse and help clean up the dining room. The workshops and programs include a Peacemaker’s Camp.

The financial life blood of Koinonia Farm is sales: Baked goods, pecans, peanuts, fair trade chocolates, organic olive oil, books and much more. Visitors can purchase these from the farm’s retail store. Online purchases are easy and sending a friend a gift from Koinonia Farm is very original.

Koinonia Farm has an internship program that has welcomed recent participants from throughout North America, Germany, England and Africa. The components are holistic: educational, spiritual and work and according to Ms. Dubay, follow a rhythm of life focusing on prayer, work, study, service and fellowship.

Koinonia Farm welcomes visitors. Civic groups, social organizations, church groups, families and individuals receive a warm greeting. If the measure of a worthwhile visit to a new destination is comfort, security, friendliness, wholesomeness and originality, few places compare with this deep south paradise.

There’s no spa, no luxury amenities or gourmet dining. But, there is a closeness to God, a connection with the universe, a wonderful opportunity to experience a higher life. Sometimes the body and soul needs rejuvenation and that’s an amenity Koinonia Farm offers for no charge.

A thorough understanding of Koinonia Farm, Clarence Jordan and the path followed from the farm’s beginning until today is available in the outstanding PBS production, “Briars in the Cotton Patch,” brilliantly narrated by former UN Ambassador and Congressman Andrew Young. It is available on Amazon and You Tube and on DVD sold by Koinonia Farm. To purchase products or inquire about a visit to the farm, go to www.koinoniafarm.org.

Ambassador Young eloquently described Koinonia: “You may have never heard the name, but this mostly unknown place has a significance that stretches around the globe and across time.”

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Veteran journalist, editor and publisher (Nationwide News), and published author specializing in food, wine, drinks, visual and performing arts, travel and cultural tourism. Currently writing a screenplay, "Requiem for a Wine Taster."

Stone Mountain, GA
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