The Fuller Center staff begins each day with devotions at 8 a.m. Devotions are led by staff, community members, local pastors and occasionally a former president of the United States. We continue the tradition that Millard started in 1976 as a way to reflect on the importance of this kingdom-building ministry and to remember those around the world engaged in helping people have a simple, decent place to live. Devotions are open to the public and last about 20 minutes.
Americus’s motto is “A shining city on a hill.” It’s a great description, because Americus is rich with history, southern charm and wonderful people. Fields of peanuts, cotton, corn and other crops will welcome you to the serenity of the area. You may even see the 39th president of the United States and his wife taking a peaceful bike ride through the countryside near the small town of Plains (10 miles northwest of Americus).
Your visit should start at the beginning by spending time at Koinonia Farm. Koinonia has nearly 65 years of groundbreaking history. Founded by Clarence Jordan, Koinonia was deeply embroiled in the civil rights movement and is rich with local African-American history. It is also the distinct birthplace of Habitat for Humanity and The Fuller Center for Housing, as well as other service organizations based on the two greatest commandments: loving God and loving our neighbors. Koinonia continues to be involved in many peace and justice movements while promoting community living, sustainable agriculture and much more.
In the fall, many people stay at Koinonia Farm to volunteer with the pecan processing and shipping. They help, as Clarence used to say, to “ship the nuts out of Georgia!” The revenue from the farm products sustains the Koinonia community and supports several endeavors, including the Heart 2 Heart housing repair ministry.
Koinonia is also researching permaculture and sustainable building practices and helping to integrate them into Fuller Center projects. To learn more before you visit, pick up a copy of Faith Fuller’s award-winning documentary, Briars in the Cottonpatch, from our online store.
GLOBAL VILLAGE AND DISCOVERY CENTER AND CAFE CAMPESINO
Be sure to visit one of the most important dreams of Millard Fuller to be realized: Habitat for Humanity’s Global Village & Discovery Center. Visitors will learn about the effects of poverty around the world and see life-size examples of houses built using local, sustainable building strategies designed to replace substandard housing.
Next, walk across the street to Café Campesino, a Fair Trade coffee house and roastery that was co-founded by Bill Harris, a Global Village volunteer who learned firsthand about the exploitation of coffee workers in Guatemala. Bill realized that creating more business and connecting producers directly with the market for their coffee, as well as convincing other farmers to switch over to Fair Trade, would help add faces and names to coffee crops.
Café Campesino’s role is to establish long-term relationships with these farming cooperatives by buying and importing their green coffee, paying them a fair wage, and selling it to roasters in the U.S. who care about the people behind the coffee. Cafe Campesino is the United States’ first and only Fair Trade and organic purchasing cooperative for green coffee beans.
JIMMY CARTER’S SUNDAY SCHOOL LESSON
Pay a visit to the hometown of Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter. President Carter is the world’s most famous carpenter and was one of Millard Fuller’s staunchest supporters. He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2002 for his “decades of untiring effort to find peaceful solution to international conflicts, to advance democracy and human rights, and to promote economic and social development.” If “Mr. Jimmy” is in town, you are invited to hear him teach Sunday School at Maranatha Baptist Church. (There are many other churches to choose from in Sumter County, and visitors are always welcome.)
Plains also features an antique mall, outdoor dancing, delicious peanut butter ice cream and a few bed and breakfasts.
We personally invite you to volunteer with our local covenant partner, the Americus-Sumter Fuller Center for Housing. We are always in need of skilled and unskilled helpers to help build new homes and renovate existing housing in Sumter County. Long-term internships and Fuller Center RV Builders assignments are also available. Each spring and fall, the Americus-Sumter Fuller Center hosts visiting groups of volunteering students from colleges and high schools around the country.
Community planners, housing advocates and students often come here to study Millard’s vision of completely transforming a community. Launched in 1993, the Sumter County Initiative was a collaborative effort by government and non-profits to effectively eliminate poverty housing in Americus and Sumter County, concluded in 2000 with a dedication of the 500th volunteer built house. However, this milestone didn’t mean we would rest. An aging housing stock, a tornado in 2007 and persistent poverty and economic challenges have left us with plenty of work to do. We can always use your help!