Sundays at Harvard-Epworth

 Communion Service at 9:00 AM In-Person &
Worship AT 11:00 AM IN-PERSON AND on Youtube  

Searching for Community: A Reflection by Kristen Grauer-Gray

This week’s reflection is written by Kristen Grauer-Gray, who spent time living and working at Koinonia Farms this past winter.

What is community and how do we build it? I’ve been asking myself this question for nearly fifteen years, ever since I returned from serving in the Peace Corps. When I lived in a village in east Africa, I didn’t have to look for community. It was simply there, as much a part of life as the red clay that stuck to my boots after the rain, as the dust that covered my windows in the dry season. It was there in the neighbors who constantly knocked at my door to offer help or visit or say hi. It was there in the bowl of food a fellow teacher sent to my house after I returned from a long trip. It was there in the school meetings we had whenever there was a marriage or a funeral in the community, where everyone would put in a donation toward the occasion.

But community often isn’t simply here in America. We have to build or look for it. For many years, I’ve been fascinated by the idea of intentional communities. These are communities that a group of people decide to build together, often within and yet separate from the society around them. There are a wide variety of intentional communities out there, from houses in inner cities with a small number of residents to larger rural communities where members farm together and grow their own food. After years of reading about intentional communities, I finally had the opportunity to visit one this winter. I spent this past February and March volunteering in and living at Koinonia Farm in Americus, Georgia.Pruning grapevines at Koinonia Farm

The word koinonia means a commune or a fellowship where goods and money are shared, just as the early Christians in the book of Acts shared their resources. Koinonia Farm is a Christian community that welcomes people of all faiths, where long-term members agree to share funds and short-term volunteers agree to share their time. In my two months at Koinonia, I volunteered in the garden, the bakery, the kitchen, and on a construction project. I attended the morning chapel services, joined the entire community for a shared lunch every day, and met people from all around the world who were brought together by the idea of community. I learned that community brings joy and that it takes work. It requires us to give up some of our time and space, and it feeds our souls in return. It doesn’t require giving up our individuality. But it does require giving up our insistence on always having things the way we want them to be. And it’s well worth the effort.

I invite you to my adult forum this Sunday at 10 am to hear more about life at Koinonia Farm.

image: Pruning grapevines at Koinonia Farm (picture courtesy Kristen Grauer-Gray)