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This Day in Georgia History

July 29, 1912

Clarence Jordan Born

Religious leader Clarence Jordan was born in Talbotton, Georgia. Majoring in agriculture at the University of Georgia, he went on to obtain a masters and doctorate in theology from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. While in school, Jordan began to minister to the inner city poor, which greatly affected his views on society and religion. In 1941, he met Baptist missionary Martin England. Together they had a dream of creating an interracial Christian community in the South that would be dedicated to peace, brotherhood, and sharing. In 1942, they decided to create Koinonia Farm (the term comes from a Greek word for sharing used by early Christians) on 440 acres of land eight miles southwest of Americus, Georgia. Expectedly, many local citizens were not happy with what they saw as an interracial commune, and the KKK began a campaign to intimidate Jordan and his followers. However, they refused to leave, and the size of the farm more than doubled in subsequent years. Jordon later prepared the Cotton Patch Version of the New Testament as a common folks’ version of the scriptures. Publicity from this helped revitalize Jordan’s efforts. Then, in 1968, Millard Fuller joined forces with Jordan to try to eliminate substandard housing in the Sumter County area by loaning money to the poor at no interest and building homes at no profit. Thus was begun the Habitat for Humanity idea, though Jordan unexpectedly died of a heart attack the next year and was not able to see it to fruition.