Clarence Jordan: The man who inspired Millard Fuller and enlightened charity
AMERICUS, Georgia — It was 110 years ago that Clarence Jordan was born — on July 29, 1910. He grew up in the small town of Talbotton, Georgia, but he would go on to change the world in a big way as he tried to help it become a proper reflection of the Kingdom of God.
After earning a degree in agriculture from the University of Georgia and then attending seminary at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Clarence and wife Florence teamed up with Martin and Mabel England in 1942 to found Koinonia Farm, an intentional Christian farming community in rural Sumter County, Georgia, designed to be a “demonstration plot for the Kingdom of God.”
They saw everyone as equal in the eyes of God. Black families and white families worked together, ate together, worshiped together and lived together in harmony — even as they were shunned, threatened and attacked for their lifestyle of peace and harmony.
Clarence would go on to write “The Cotton Patch Gospels,” putting the Bible’s New Testament in a Georgia setting with Southern vernacular — but with the same message Jesus delivered.
Among the families who would come to live at Koinonia were Millard and Linda Fuller, who stopped by to visit friends. The Fullers had just given away their fortune to dedicate their lives to the service of God’s Kingdom. Clarence became a spiritual mentor, and the Fullers took his Christian concepts of “enlightened charity” and partnership with those in need and turned them into a movement — the affordable housing movement.
“More than anybody I ever have known, he thought like Jesus,” Millard once said.
Fuller Center for Housing Vice President of Communications Chris Johnson sat down this week with Fuller Center President David Snell to talk about the life and impact of Clarence Jordan, who died in 1969 in the middle of writing a sermon.