Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Saints: Clarence Jordan

Clarence Jordan (pronounced "Jer-den") had a unique ministry that keeps on giving to communities around the world. Jordan was born in 1912 in rural Georgia. He received a degree in agriculture from the University of Georgia, then earned his Master of Divinity degree and PhD in New Testament studies from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky. Jordan combined his education in a truly useful way.

Clarence Jordan and his wife Florence founded Koinonia Farm near Americus, Georgia in 1942. This was an experiment in communal Christian living, and as such all sorts and conditions of people were welcome. Bo Johnson and Clarence Jordan at Koinonia FarmsThis included all races as well. There were no social or racial barriers on this farm, and it was attacked on a regular basis. Jordan and his family were expelled from their local Baptist church, and then there were the shootings, bombings and crosses burned on their yards. The community formed an economic boycott but Koinonia held on by starting a mail-order business for their pecans.

But it was out of this milieu that Habitat for Humanity was formed. If you have not volunteered your time and labor on a Habitat for Humanity house, you have missed the blessing of truly sharing with your community.

Before he died in 1969 at the age of fifty-seven, Clarence Jordan had employed his skills as a translator of the Greek New Testament. He gave the world the "Cotton Patch Gospels" which see Jesus' humanity from the perspective of a south Georgia native.

Clarence JordanClarence was also known for his humor. Once when he was being given a tour of a new church building, the pastor pointed to the cross on the steeple. The pastor said something like, "That cross alone cost $10,000." Clarence said, "You got cheated. Times were when Christians could get them for free."

So today we remember Clarence Jordan, who lived out radical, life-changing Christianity and turned his world around for the better.

In peace,


The Rev. Linda McCloud
Founding Pastor
The Episcopal Church of Our Savior at Honey Creek

1 comment:

King of Peace said...

My favorite Clarence Jordan quote is when he said that some people will, “worship the hind legs off Jesus but they wouldn’t obey him.” It's classicly Clarence in its clarity.