Afraid of Koinonia: How life on this farm reveals the fear of Christian community

“… of segregated worship. The social construct of race and its progeny colors in our theology, which, in turn, characterizes our practice of community. ”

Team Members/Contributors

Starlette Thomas Village Baptist Church Contact Me

About this pastoral study project

Witnessed in the Acts of the Apostles, the disciples had “all things in common” (2.44; 4.32). All hands in, Dietrich Bonhoeffer later identifies who holds this community together. He writes in Life Together, “Christianity means community through Jesus Christ and in Jesus Christ.” Howard Thurman would wrestle with what remains an obvious disconnection between shared suffering and “the religion of Jesus” in his seminal work, Jesus and the Disinherited. And on his "demonstration plot for the kingdom of God" in Americus, Georgia, Clarence Jordan along with several other families would pick up where the book of Acts leaves off, writing in The Cotton Patch Version of Luke and Acts, “It merely stops, as though the author is saying, ‘Here’s where I get off; y’all take it from here.’” Jordan would do just that. Still, the need for courageous and transformative community remains.

In the 1950s, Jordan’s Koinonia Farm was physically attacked, economically boycotted and socially isolated in response to their practice of counter- cultural community. Sharing and serving across socially drawn racial lines, this community aimed to “serve a period of apprenticeship in developing community life on the teachings and principles of Jesus.” Consequently, examining life on this farm as an expression of authentic community and prophetic witness against race would aid and empower the church in North America in its understanding and practice of community- building. Sadly, community remains an elusive goal and its absence a current critique as noted by Ruth Haley Barton in her book Life Together in Christ, where she records a friend's comment, "Community is the most 'overpromised and under-delivered' aspect of the church today." Yes, the syncretism of the ideology of race with Christianity stunts its authentic expression and growth. This project aims to dig deep and pull from the spirit and practices of life on this farm in hopes of producing more faithful living.