I’m watching a documentary on PBS about the Koinonia Farm, near Americus, Georgia. It is called Briars in the Cottonpatch. In the lead, we’re told that most people have never heard of it. Perhaps, but it is dear to me.
- I preached from Clarence Jordan’s version of Luke — the annunication to Mary and her Magnificat — before Christmas 1995 at my student church, the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Arlington (Tx.). Little did I know a church member, Lora Browne, had just returned from a sojourn on personal family business so long that I had never met her . And she was one of the children of one of the three founding families, and had grown up with the community . . . and the violence. I, of course, was mortified that misstated the the facts of Koinonia. She told me two things. First, the whole community created the bible translations. Second, she thought that in preaching from that text in Texas, I should have recast the place names to Texas places. (In the Cotton Patch Version of the Bible, Rome became Washington; Jerusalem, Atlanta; and smaller places all set within Georgia.)
- In 1999 or 2000, a long-time volunteer at Koinonia organized a conference affirming universal salvation, and one of my happy times in Georgia after seminary was attending and speaking there. Just as plain and real as could be (and un-air-conditioned.)
- That Sunday, I attended worship at the Disciples church in downtown Americus. (Next to First Baptist, incidentally, if you watch the documentary.) The building was once the Universalist church in town, and the minister gave me the tour of the plant. The Universalist congregation died in the Depression, just three or four years after the terrific plant was erected!