A son of the American South, Clarence Jordan was troubled by his people’s comfortable embrace of both Jesus and racism. After studying for a doctorate in New Testament at the Southern Baptist Seminary, Jordan and his family returned to Georgia in 1942 to start Koinonia Farm, an interracial community in the heart of the Jim Crow South. Greeted by Ku Klux Klan members who told him, “We don’t let the sun set on -people like you around here,” Jordan smiled and replied, “Pleased to meet y’all. I’ve been waiting all my life to meet someone who could make the sun stand still.”
As a son of the South myself, I claim Brother Clarence as a Baptist saint of sorts. When we put together Common Prayer: A Liturgy for Ordinary Radicals, I was tickled to get to remember him on this, the day he died.
Clarence Jordan wrote, “Jesus has been so zealously worshiped, his deity so vehemently affirmed, his halo so brightly illumined, and his cross so beautifully polished that in the minds of many he no longer exists as a man. By thus glorifying him we more effectively rid ourselves of him than did those who tried to do so by crudely crucifying him.”
Shane and I had a chance last year to make a little pilgrimage together to the writing shack at Koinonia Farm where Clarence Jordan died. Here’s a little video of us swapping stories about one from the great cloud of witnesses that inspires us.