Happy birthday, Clarence Jordan!
This Sunday marks what would have been the 100th birthday of farmer and New Testament scholar Clarence Jordan (July 29, 1912 – October 29, 1969). Clarence and his wife Florence, along with Martin and Mable England, co-founded Koinonia Farm in 1942. Koinonia Farmwas a radical concept-an interracial intentional Christian community that set out to be a demonstration plot for the Kingdom of God.The farm continues to operate in the deep South and began during a time when it would have been unthinkable for white people and African Americans to sit down at a dinner table together. In fact scholars such as Charles Marsh have speculated that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. evoked the progressive community’s mealtime gatherings in his famous “I Have a Dream” speech when he said, “I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.” There is enough evidence of a relationship between the two Baptist pastors that there is a high likelihood that this poetic image in King’s speech was derived from his awareness of Koinonia’s bold challenge to segregation even during the times of violence and boycott.