Growing Together

Outside the community dining hall at Koinonia Farm near Americus, Georgia, a bell sits on a rough-hewn post like a hat on a welcoming host. For almost 70 years, visitors have been welcomed there every weekday for a community meal. Today, there's a new vitality at Koinonia; it can be heard in the bell's ring five times a day, as well as in the voices of cattle and sheep, children and construction crews. While deeply rooted in their tradition, Koinonia's members are creating fresh structures in community life -- and they have a new approach to the land based on permaculture, a design system for sustainable habitats.

In 1942, Clarence and Florence Jordan, along with Martin and Mabel England, started the farm as a "demonstration plot for the kingdom of God." Koinonia endured violent hostility for its pacifist stand in the 1940s and for fostering close relationships between African-American and white neighbors in the 1950s and '60s. In the '70s and '80s, members' work led to forming international ministries: Habitat for Humanity, Jubilee Partners, and the Fuller Center for Housing.

But in the wake of a 1993 decision to make structural changes to function more like a typical nonprofit corporation, Koinonia experienced a decade of challenges. The change had sound reasons, including the hope to include more African-American neighbors in long-term employment, but the community struggled for leadership and focus. The core ministries were sustained, but Koinonia lost money and had to sell nearly half of its 1,100 acres.

Read the Full Article

​You've reached the end of our free magazine preview. For full digital access to Sojourners articles for as little as $2.95, please subscribe now. Your subscription allows us to pay authors fairly for their terrific work!
Subscribe Now!