Shuck and Jive

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Cotton Patch Comes to Elizabethton

This Sunday First Pres. welcomes Dr. Robert Hamblin to lead worship. Dr. Hamblin portrays Clarence Jordan of "Cotton Patch" fame. Here is the press release:

Dr. Robert Hamblin, a professor of English at Southeast Missouri State University in Cape Girardeau, will present “Preacher in Overalls: The Story of Clarence Jordan and Koinonia Farm” at 11 a.m., Sunday, June 29, at the First Presbyterian Church of Elizabethton, 119 West F Street.

Jordan (pronounced Jurden), the legendary Baptist preacher who died in 1969, and his wife Florence founded Koinonia Farm, a communal, biracial fellowship, near Americus, Georgia, in 1942. The group was subjected to years of violence and threats from the Ku Klux Klan, but the farm survives today as both a working farm and a religious center promoting peace, inclusiveness, and non-violence.

is also well known as the author of the Cotton Patch Gospels, a translation of the New Testament into the Southern vernacular that Jordan, a native Georgian, spoke and heard.

Jordan and Koinonia Farm heavily influenced Millard and Linda Fuller, the founders of Habitat for Humanity, as well as President Jimmy Carter.

Hamblin’s Chautauqua-type impersonation of Jordan includes both the history of Koinonia Farm and excerpts from Jordan’s sermons and books.

Hamblin credits his attendance at a Missouri Chautauqua program for stirring his interest in developing the Jordan program.
“My entire family enjoyed Chautauqua immensely, and I thought it would be fun to portray a historical character in that fashion,” he said. “And I’ve been a huge admirer of Clarence Jordan for a long time.”

Hamblin adds:
“Because of my teaching style, my students sometimes ask if I have ever been a preacher. This way I get to be a preacher and don’t have to write my own sermons.”

Admission to the program is free, and the public is invited. We will take an offering for Habitat for Humanity in place of an honorarium.

Oh, and we'll sing some good old timey gospel tunes

accompanied by our own Liturgical String Band.


  1. Dr. Hamblin, Millard and I are so pleased to hear about your portrayal of Clarence Jordan. Since we live in Americus, GA it will be impossible for us to be there. Will you be posting the sermon on your web site so we can at least read it? Even better, will there be a recording available? If you will send us your address, we would like to send you a complimentary copy of a book that was published last year entitled, HOUSE THAT LOVE BUILT. It includes the story of our meeting and working with Clarence back in the 60's, missionary work in Africa for 3 years, our work with Habitat 29 years and beginning a new housing ministry in 2005, The Fuller Center for Housing,
    God bless, Linda Fuller

  2. Looks like fun. I think I'll play hooky from St. John's that morning. Can Episcopalians enter through the front doors?

  3. Whoa! Linda Fuller on my blog! Hey welcome! I will pass on the good word to Dr. Hamblin.

    I'm just the preacher, John Shuck. Dr. Hamblin is our guest speaker for Sunday.

  4. Episcopalians, eh? Well, you can enter the front door as long as you curtsy.


    Curtsy? I was thinking of farting, actually.

    Speaking of farting, there is a movement in San Francisco to rename one of the city's main sewage plants in honor of George W. Bush. The above link will take you to the story.

    I especially like the idea of having a massive synchronized flush the moment the new president is inaugurated next January.

  6. Mrs. Fuller,

    We would love to have you come to Elizabethton sometime in the near future to speak about your experiences with Clarence Jordan, Habitat, and the Fuller Center.

    I will send a personal e-mail to invite you and to connect you with Dr. Hamblin.

    I have read The House That Love Built when I served on the board of our Habitat chapter in New York State.

    We will record the service on Sunday and get you a copy (assuming it is OK with Dr. Hamblin).

    Thanks for visiting the blog!


  7. There's a film called "Briars in the Cottan Patch: The Story of the Koinonia Farm" that is an excellent work. It has been shown on PBS. If you ever get the chance to see it, it's worth a watch. It sells for $19.95 at the website,

  8. I have had the distinct honor of seeing Tom Key in both the original run (when I was knee-high to a june bug) and in the revival a couple of years ago of "Cotton Patch Gospel", which is a gospel-musical adaptation of Jordan.

    One of my favorite scenes is the resurrection, when Jesus (played by Key) hops up on a box in front of the mourning disciples and exclaims, "it worked!!!" And he sounds just as surprised and excited as the rest of 'em.