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'Koinonia Farm': faith and hard work

By Arthur Unger / February 21, 1984



Clarence Jordan believed that faith is the turning of dreams into deeds. Koinonia Farm, 1,500 acres of red-clay farmland between Americus and Plains, Ga. , is living testimony that a community based on the ''naive'' commitment to the biblical concepts of sharing and nonviolence can work.

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Enough to Share: A Portrait of Koinonia Farm (PBS, Tuesday, Feb. 21, 10-10:30 p.m., check local listings for premiere and repeats) traces the growth of this experiment in practical idealism through the voices of members of the commune and especially through the incisive reminiscences of the widow of Mr. Jordan, the founder. It is a disturbing and thought-provoking film, because it's likely to cause many viewers to take a serious and critical look at their own life styles to see if they can match the seemingly selfless standards of Koinonia (''coin-ON-ya'').

In 1942, Clarence Jordan, an idealistic young minister, gathered together a small group of people in south Georgia to form a farming commune. Then, in the 1950s, during the great civil rights drive, Koinonia Farm became the main target for KKK bigots, who tried terrorism as well as boycotts to drive out the interracial community in its midst. Now, more than 40 years later, Koinonia Farm still thrives, with 100 partners, volunteers, and employees, including some of the original settlers but also many second-generation members.

''We should not lay up for ourselves treasures,'' says Mrs. Jordan, explaining the basic premise of the commune that the acquisition of material goods is not necessary for a satisfying existence. The ideal is sharing and helping others. The members of the commune live frugally below the offical poverty level, because ''the more we can save, the more we can share with others.'' They draw on a list of 25,000 prosperous people willing to lend interest-free money to Koinonia workers, who then build low-cost housing for local sharecroppers. They also farm the land.

Despite past accusations (always denied) against Koinonia as ''communistic,'' this presentation of Georgia Public Television makes it clear that the story of Koinonia is an inspiring tale of moral rather than political activism. Says Mrs. Jordan with the compelling conviction of the totally committed: ''If Christ was a social revolutionary, then so are we.''