Koinonia History links:

History Home
A Brief History
Clarence Jordan
Oral History


Briars In the CottonpatchBriars in the Cottonpatch

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Georgia Historic Site
Koinonia Remembered


Nov 1942

Clarence & Florence Jordan and Martin & Mabel England move to a farm in Sumter County, Georgia and determine to be guided by the following principles:

  1. All humankind are related under God's parenthood.
  2. Love is the alternative to violence (pacifism).
  3. Share all possessions.

Note, special dates are bold; click on any images to view closeup.
Late 1940s
  • Interracial Bible studies for neighbors.
Summer 1943
  • The Tree House is the First building completed on Koinonia grounds, it was occupied until 1990.
Late 1940s-1953


  • Bible study - mainly for children.
  • Housing and friendship offered to alcoholics and draftees.
  • Jordan family and other Koinonian's excommunicated from Rehobath Southern Baptist Church for views on racial equality. 14 Adult residents.
  • Successful farm endeavor.
  • Beginning of active resistance by the outside local community to Koinonia.
  • First written pledge to the three principles and one another in community.
  • Increasing numbers of residents and volunteers.
  • Beginning of youth clubs. Will & Margaret Wittkamper arrive.
  • School desegregation suit, increased hostility.
  • Drought brings lower yields and first irrigation system.
  • Plot purchased on Route 19S, and a produce stand is built.
  • Interracial summer camp held.
May 1956

  • Clarence signs as alumnus sponsor of two black college students.
June 1956
  • Health Department closes summer camp.
  • Boycott of Koinonia products by local business community begins - continues until the mid-1960s.
July 1956
  • Produce stand is attacked.
Nov 1956
  • Shots fired into Koinonia homes from highway.
  • Row crop farming suspended.
Jan 14, 1957
  • Produce stand bombed and destroyed.
  • Clarence writes to Pres. Eisenhower.
  • Many leave to move north for safety, especially children.
Feb 1957
  • Klu Klux Klan holds a rally and drives to Koinonia to threaten more violence unless farm is sold.
  • Clarence Jordan receives letter of support from Martin Luther King, Jr.
Mar 1957
  • Grand Jury investigation held.
Apr 1957
  • Mail-order business begins with the slogan "Help us ship the nuts out of Georgia."
  • On Easter Eve, while Dorothy Day and another member of the community did sentry duty at the entrance gate, their parked station wagon was peppered with shot from a shotgun. Fortunately no one was injured.
May 1957
  • Business of local merchant who sold to Koinonia bombed.
  • White citizens ask Clarence to leave the county.
  • 5 to 8 people remain.
  • Clarence records a tape telling the Koinonia story.
  • Wittkampers sue to have children admitted into Americus High School.
  • Plot on Route 19S sold.
  • Only 4 adults remain on the farm.
  • Clarence begins translating the New Testament directly from Greek into contemporary southern dialect.
  • Civil Rights Act
Mid 1960s

  • Volunteers help keep Koinonia going.
  • Clarence travels on lecture tour.
  • Jordans propose relocation and redirection; they offer 1,100 acres of farmland to friends.

  • Millard Fuller contacts Clarence. Millard & Linda Fuller come in July. Change of direction decided. Partnership Housing begins.
  • Incorporated as Koinonia Partners.
  • Fund for Humanity established for building houses. The fund still exists, and its concept was later adopted by Habitat For Humanity
  • Farming begins again.
Oct 29, 1969
  • Clarence Jordan dies from cardiac arrest at age 57.
  • A new era marked by large increase in volunteers and resident partners.
  • House construction booms.
  • Industries started in handcrafts, sewing and pottery.
  • Clarence's Cotton Patch translations are published.
  • First house completed with mortgage signed by Bo & Emma Johnson.

  • Ferro cement building construction begins as an alternative model of houses built by the Koinonia Fund for Humanity.
  • Cotton Patch Evidence published.
  • Koinonia Child Development Center (KCDC) started.
  • Suit brought against the County Board of Education for refusing to hire a Koinonia resident.

  • Structured volunteer program begins.
  • Board of Directors says Koinonia "...is a means by which disciples of Christ can be faithful to his teachings..."
  • Larger pecan crops expands industry.
  • Demonstration at Ft. Benning against Vietnam War when President Ford


  • Peace activism through participation by community members in vigils in Georgia and in Washington, DC. Partners and volunteers imprisoned for civil disobedience at demonstrations.
  • Covenant and lifestyle guidelines developed.
  • First witness at the Pantex plant in Amarillo, TX against nuclear weapons. Koinonia Partner, Steve Clemens, spends time in prison.
  • "Plutonium Path" Caravan witness goes from Savannah River Plant to Pantex and Rocky Flats.
  • witness at Robbins Air Force Base against nuclear weapons.
  • Montezuma Nuclear Train Blockade.
  • Peace Pentecost witness against arms race and Apartheid in Wash., SC.
  • Public vigils begin (with model of an electric chair) against executions
    at Sumter County Courthouse on days of executions.
  • Language program begins with Asian students.
June 17, 1987
  • Florence Jordan dies - the last of the original four founders.
June 23, 1989
  • Bo & Emma Johnson complete house payments - community celebrates with a mortgage burning.
  • 5 more mortgages paid off. New KCDC building begins construction.
Sept 1991
  • New KCDC building is dedicated. Programs for pre-school ages are expanded, and eventually to be recognized as some of the best in the state.
April 24, 1992
  • Koinonia celebrated first 50 years with a reunion!
  • The Board of Directors makes a major decision to discontinue the income-sharing community and transition Koinonia to a non-profit Christian community development organization.
  • A number of long-time African American employees and homeowners assume leadership and management roles in Koinonia.
  • Organizational transition: Gave up the Common Purse, Partners became employees, a new Mission Statement.
  • Prison and Jail Project started.
  • Indebtedness led to sale of some farm land. 575 acres continued.
  • Cotton Patch Gospel Musical played to large audiences in Atlanta and Americus
  • Koinonia Child Development Center closed due to lack of enrollment as similar programs now exist in Americus. Plans begin for Outreach Center.
  • Book Club started to enhance social justice education.
  • 60th Anniversary. Theme: "Embracing the Past; Enriching the Future"

Presently Koinonia works for self-reliance and dignity for low-income neighborhoods by strengthening the family and empowering the community. Koinonia is also the meeting ground for people of many different backgrounds who come together to work and study issues of social justice and faith. Our programs include:

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Koinonia is a Christian farm community founded in 1942 by Clarence Jordan,
author of the Cotton Patch Gospels. Birthplace of Habitat for Humanity

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