Koinonia Partners, an intentional Christian community, was established as Koinonia Farm between Americus and Plains GA 70 years ago. Clarence and Florence Jordan (pronounced Jerdan, for some reason) and Martin and Mabel England were the faithful founders. They felt God calling them to live out the love, peace and justice Jesus preached and lived. I was privileged to join the celebration of both the past and ongoing ministry of this remarkable and, as it turned out, dangerous and courageous venture.
Greg Wittkamper spoke at a breakout session I attended, telling his story of being a Koinonia kid in the 1960s when the high school in Americus was forced to integrate. These many years later, he had to pause to regain his composure recalling the daily persecution which he and others from the community were subjected, from constant taunting of “Greg Wittnigger” from “Koinonigger” and paperclips being shot into his back to physical assault. Our hearts were wrenched but then warmed by the bigger story of classmates who had acted so hatefully asking forgiveness decades later. An intentional reconciliation took place at the 41stclass reunion.
Habitat for Humanity and The FullerCenter for Housing grew out of the community at Koinonia Farm, and in a session with Don Mosley I was startled and delighted to learn about the North Korea Initiative–The Fuller Center is building houses in North Korea! For six years, Mosley has been traveling there and helping this happen. Love, peace, justice, radically lived out.
Jimmy Carter was on hand to give tribute to Clarence Jordan. Their relationship went back at least to a 1952 boycott of Koinonia Farm when businesses in the county refused to buy or sell to Koinonia because the community was bi-racial. Characteristically, Carter was supportive of their cause. Today’s huge mail order business of pecans and peanuts started up in response to that long ago boycott with the motto, “Let’s ship the nuts out of Georgia!” Carter is now 88 years old, and he and Rosalynn are heading to Haiti soon to help build 100 homes. This is the 29thannual Habitat for Humanity build led by the Carters. (I can’t leave out a major disappointment. I had made a very special reservation for a dinner with Rosalynn and Jimmy and missed it because I was mixed up on the time. Big, sad sigh.)
I find a deep and abiding pleasure in being with people who see faith the way Clarence Jordan described faith: “a life lived in scorn of the consequences.” I yearn to live that way (at least sometimes) and to celebrate Jesus’ resurrection that way, and here’s what Jordan said about that resurrection: “The proof that God raised Jesus from the dead is not the empty tomb, but the full hearts of his transformed disciples…not a vacant grave, but a spirit-filled fellowship. Not a rolled-away stone, but a carried-away church…” Yes, Lord, please. Amen.