Koinonia was erasing racial barriers long before the civil rights movement started. Since the community’s founding in 1942, founder Clarence Jordan treated all people fairly, insisting that blacks and whites live, work, eat and worship together. That didn’t sit well with the Klan, who bombed their farm stands, fired shotguns into their homes and organized a massive boycott that nearly ended their existence. With support from the north, Koinonia was able to survive the boycott by building up a mail order pecan business. “Help us ship the nuts out of Georgia,” was Clarence’s slogan.
Koinonia’s ministry building houses for impoverished neighbors grew into the international non-profit known as Habitat for Humanity. Today, Koinonia is guided by a dedicated core of eight members, with the support of many longterm friends, neighbors, interns, staff and volunteers. They host many visitors with generous hospitality.
Joan and I were glad recipients of their hospitality. We feel very much at home, having more than enough private space and time. We are comfortable going on walks and enjoying the beautiful land and pecan orchards.
While taking photos near the common kitchen and eating area, I was approached by an older man named Nash. He had lived in the community for about seven years and now helped out whenever he could. He convinced me to postpone the work I had intended to do and instead ride in his van for a tour to Picnic Hill. There we walked to a mind of earth that he said was the gravesite of Millard Fuller, founder of Habitat. Nash said that Clarence Jordan’s grave and the graves of both their spouses we’re just beyond in the woods, all unmarked as they had requested.
Nash told me about the events of Millard’s death, and how Nash and a friend had sweated buckets while hand-digging his grave. Under every stone I discover another story here.