As spring begins to bloom and our Koinonia Organic Farm workers arrive back from their winter respite in Mexico, we reflect on our namesake and the history of our property here at Gramercy Mansion. Heather stumbled upon this tidbit of Koinonia history (http://www.geotrees.com/v_schools.html) for those of you interested in what once was.
KOINONIA FOUNDATION (closed)
Baltimore, Maryland, USA
Ten years of periodic prayer and retreat, in response to world needs
during the era of World War II, preceded the emergence of Koinonia
Foundation into working reality in 1951. (“Koinonia,” a term used
often by the early church, is a Greek word for “community.”) The
Foundation acquired a 44-acre estate in the Green Spring Valley
north of Baltimore, and soon launched a program, and community life,
featuring retreat, study, spiritual community – and training to take
literacy, agriculture, health, and similar practical skills into the
undeveloped world. Much of the Peace Corps’ program was modeled
after Koinonia’s. The community’s center of gravity was nonsectarian
Christianity, with strong Quaker influences.
Koinonia’s life had two phases. The first, lasting from 1950 to
1970, featured the philosopy, purpose, and programs of the founders.
The second phase included a shift from the original orientation to
“New Age” and wholistic activities and “the alternate semester.”
During this time many of the community’s original members and
friends continued to engage the place as a center of prayer, study,
The community had a multigenerational resident population, with
several resident staffers / instructors living there over its entire
life, and a total population of up to about eighty people at any
given time. (Short-term retreatants and students, and some renters,
were included in the foundation.) This diverse group – typically
ranging in age from conception to the mid-80s – was one of
Koinonia’s great strengths.
Koinonia closed its doors in 1985, but many of its people continue
in roles of spirit, learning, and leadership around the country, and
around the world. The Foundation continues as a small grant-writing
organization to the present day.