In 1942, Clarence Jordan and his wife decided to start Koinonia Farm in Americus, Georgia. Clarence grew up in Americus but went off to college at UGA and got a degree in agriculture. Then he went on to earn a Ph.D. in Greek New Testament in Louisville but came back to Georgia to be a farmer, giving his farm a Greek name, Koinonia Farm.
Clarence Jordan decided to take the New Testament seriously and turned his farm into an interracial intentional Christian community. Black and white people lived together in harmony on this farm. Remember, this is 1942.
Clarence loved to tell a story about the time the KKK came to visit his farm. They came to the fence and asked to see him because his name was on the deed. He walked out and greeted them and said: “how can I help you?” They said, “We just wanted to come out and let you know that we don’t let the sun set on people like you.” He turned to them and gave them his broadest smile, and said, “I’m so pleased to meet you, gentlemen. I have been waiting my whole life to meet someone who can make the sun stand still.” He said they chuckled a little bit, and then he changed the topic to talk about the peanut crop that year.
They left him alone for about ten years until the civil rights movement really got going and they realized how subversive Koinonia Farm actually was. Then the KKK started firebombing his roadside stands, and then they put an economic boycott on the pecans that they sold from that farm. You could not buy or sell pecans from Koinonia Farm in Americus, GA.
Clarence decided they just have to change their marketing strategy and start a mail-order business. He decided the tagline on their packaging was going to be, “Help us ship the nuts out of Georgia.” Somehow they have survived all these many years, knowing first hand the cost and joy of discipleship.
Following a faith of radical inclusion is never popular. But in a world that always seems on the brink of unraveling, I am grateful for people like Clarence and his wife, who show us that commitment, courage and creativity are the antidotes to all that divides us.
We are in this together,