Saturday, January 2, 2016

work in community, service, & Sunday School!

I encourage anyone interested to check out the main websites of both The Farm in Tennessee and Koinonia Farm in Georgia. and ;  and the earlier "To learn more about our history, please visit our old site "
both have businesses, both non-profit and for profit on The Farm; and possibly all non-profit on Koinonia Farm.  and that is the major source of income and livelihood for both communities.  both were originally communal, in that they shared income and all financial holdings in the common pool of the community; and the community in turn provided each individual member with their basic living needs, such as food and shelter.  both went through a time of deep, threatening financial debt; and both came out of debt by changing from being communal to a form of each individual taking responsibility for their own living expenses. 
         The Farm calls this The Changeover, and has never changed back, and in fact threw out many other babies with the bathwater, which have also not in any clarified way changed back or even been clearly restated, as I experience it.  There is much literature on this, and many opinions if pressed, lots of feeling, but little communal definition, to my experience as a newbie.  It was 1983, after forming as a (2-300 strong) commune in 1971, and otherwise thriving (up to 1500 strong) those 12 years, full of fond memory (and i believe warranted righteousness).
         Koinonia's "changeover" was to a non-profit organization of more private financial responsibilities in the 1990's, after forming as a 2-couple Christian commune in 1942; and is now some years back into an income-sharing arrangement among the Stewards, who are members devoting the rest of their lives to work and worship at Koinonia Farm.  There are other statuses of people here who are not permanent: interns, each for a year at a time; and longer-term novices perhaps considering transition toward Stewardship.  And visitors in a wide variety of warmly invited capacities all year around—both as part of giving and of receiving service.
         both TF and KF had spiritual devotion, foundation, direction, and leadership.  TF defrocked and dethroned its spiritual teacher at the changeover, and does not retain or revive, so far, a clarified spiritual line of teaching per se, but each member who was member before the changeover does appear to have their own devout spiritual practice and way of looking at life (mine, yours, and theirs), and living, that is deeply spiritual and crucial to their own heart.
         Being here at KF, it is very easy for me to occupy my self in full-time hard or easy, constructive, meaningful work.  (away from which I consciously turn, even to write here in my blog.)  It is always easily and readily available.  And in a way it can be considered in exchange for the food at our 8 communal meals (not counting Sunday evening's worship-potluck), and very accommodating accommodations at very low suggested donation; or it can be considered, simply as my form of service in itself.
         the work on KF is primarily farming, primarily at the time pecans, and some livestock: beef, hogs, poultry & eggs.  a complete set of pecan processing plants.  a store and extensive mail-order/catalogue business featuring pecans in all forms, baked goods; and books by and about KF and perhaps radical Christianity.  and a fair bit of vegetables and greens for the community's consumption.  as i understand it these are all businesses owned and operated by KF as a community; and not privately owned and run as are most businesses on TF.  on KF they do mix paid workers hired from outside the community with workers who work as members and interns of the community, who i believe do not get paid in the same paycheck sense.
         This contrasts with a current TF e-discussion list conversation i am reading at while here at KF.  Where several old members point out how it is a rare enough luxury and honor to get longterm paying, sustaining employment on TF.  A newbie like me had sent out a request for such work on TF, saying they would prefer to be employed for their livelihood within the community rather than go outside of the community.  The major response was that that was indeed a good dream, yet could be hard to realize.  But there were a nearly equal number quietly asking what were his specialties currently, and what were any areas he desired new training in.
         Tomorrow I'm planning to go early to try to get in to former President (could that have been democrat?) of the US, Jimmy Carter's, very popular Sunday School class tomorrow morning in nearby Plains GA.  what i've heard of late (from old members on The Farm before I left for here) is that Jimmy's officially left the Southern Baptist Convention due to their extreme conservativism regarding women not being pastors, and that he's been declared cancer-free in his fairly recent survivorship (there are signs like political posters stating this, in every yard within a 20 mile radius).
         1/2/16 10:58 AMsat

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