Koinonia Farms, in Americus, Georgia, is today better known for the organization it spawned, Habitat for Humanity. But long before Millard Fuller and his wife stepped onto the farm, Koinonia had been practicing racial reconciliation on a community farm. Clarence Jordan founded the farm in 1942, after graduating from Southern Theological Seminary, as a place where blacks and whites would work together, live together, and eat at the same table. In the Deep South, where many churches were strong supporters of segregation, it was considered a radical attempt to live out the Christian life.
Still, the farm was simply an oddity until the civil-rights movement began. When Southerners committed to segregation saw that the Southern way of life was about to end, they attempted to stop anything that challenged the status quo. In the '50s, Koinonia became the target of bombings, drive-by shootings, and, most damaging, an economic boycott.
In February, almost 50 years after the attacks began, PBS stations across the country airedBriars in the Cottonpatch: The Story of Koinonia Farms, a documentary about the community. CT online assistant editor Rob Moll talked to Jim Jordan, Clarence Jordan's son, about growing up at Koinonia.
Koinonia was trying to tear down racial barriers long before it was an issue most people thought about.
Clarence Jordan didn't look at it from the standpoint of trying to break down barriers. He made a point of saying "I'm not trying to change the laws, or change anything other than to live the way I believe Christians should live. If that causes conflict, then so be it."
It came down to the same thing [as what civil-rights workers were doing], but it's the perspective that one is coming from that is important. My dad ...1