Nov 26, 2006

Field Trip Review: Homestead Heritage

Thanksgiving weekend is my very favorite time of the whole year! It actually has very little to do with Thanksgiving itself, although I enjoy Thanksgiving. It is the Friday and Saturday after Thanksgiving that I love! For seven years now, we have gone up to Waco to visit Homestead Heritage, a Christian, homeschool, agrarian community that opens its doors to anyone who wishes to come visit for this weekend. This festival is called their Craft and Children's Fair, but it is far from child's play.

This community of believers leads simple lives, although they work very hard at everything they do. Quality is far more important than quantity. They have a strong emphasis on craftsmanship, of which they give numerous demonstrations during the weekend. One year, we watched them shear the sheep, card and wash the wool, dye the wool, spin it into yarn, weave the yarn into material, and sew the material into usable items such as clothes and blankets. The annual barn raising seems to really attract the men. They give demonstrations on making pottery (plates, serving dishes, cups, everything imaginable - almost perfect quality), candlemaking, soap making, basket weaving, broom making, quilting, all kinds of homesteading and homemaking skills. One year, we went to the cheese making demonstration. They had made a large demonstration board with a picture and instructions for each step of the process. Step #1 was "Milk the cow." There is beekeeping, herb and vegetable gardening, boat building, the grist mill run by a water wheel, hay rides through the community, many historic buildings, rope making, bread baking, goat milking, horse farming, and lots of homeschool work displayed as well. Here are a few demonstrations we saw this year.

Demonstrations

Mike showed us how to use a lathe to make a wooden bowl.


Paul demonstrating woodworking with hand tools, some of which were 150 years old.


Last year, we commissioned them to make this solid-wood cherry bed for us, all with hand tools.


Here is the headboard detail, the Texas symbol. Each half-point of the star was inlaid separately, and the wreath is hand carved.


Pounding in the sand for the mold for metal casting to make tools.


Rip, the border collie herding goats.

Music

The quality of their two daily musical performances is outstanding. Writing their own compositions or making changes to familiar ones, Homestead Heritage's concerts are an incredible delight. Using a wide variety of style, from bluegrass to gospel to folk (but all in a manner that glorifies God), they are unashamedly Christian in all their music and quite talented. I figure I go to the symphony or some other musical venture about once per month, but this latest adult concert by Homestead Heritage was probably the best I've ever heard. Their "Dueling Banjos" piece, which is normally a guitar being copied by a banjo, was greatly expanded to include each section of the orchestra as well. As one section would begin to imitate first the guitar and then the banjo, each section in turn would begin to imitate as well. The trick was that the guitar would then begin on a new segment, or maybe the banjo would take the lead. By the time they were in full gear, each section was playing a different segment, yet they all complemented one another. I'd never seen a symphony do something that difficult - and pull it off!


With about 75 in the adult choir, there were always great accompanists, many of which made their own instruments.


Six years old is when each child in the community joins the choir. The 6-9 year olds learn to sing solos, hit the right notes and stay on the beat. What great training at a young age.


The 10-13 year olds sing two-part harmony and rounds.


The 14-17 year olds sing 4-6 part harmony and are quite professional by this stage. If my children could have the opportunity to participate in praising the Lord this way, I'm sure it would fulfill that inborn need each of us has for music - music that glorifies God. The cows mooing in the meadow next door really added to the ambiance.

Food

I won't normally buy fast food or fair food, but we make an exception here. Although they sell "typical" fair food, such as pizza and hamburgers and ice cream, there is a slight difference - it is all grown right there and home made. So, a cheeseburger, for instance, would be organic, free-range beef with raw, organic cheese on a whole wheat homemade bun. Their ice cream is all organic, made fresh right there, and sweetened with their own sorghum syrup they grow right there.

Amenities

We always camp overnight when we go here. They just let us use part of their land to set up a tent and provide a port-a-potty for us. Less than a mile down the road was a "real" bathroom. No official campsites, no tables or anything, but lots of fellowship. There were about 30 families camping together. It's not a requirement to be a Christian to come visit, but there are lots of Christians who come to get a vision of what "church" should really look like, what living in a community is like. It was so refreshing to see families gathered separately and in groups having devotions together all over the campground, or just singing hymns and praising the Lord.

I read a little bit in a book about why they live in a community. Church is not about meeting together on Sunday, they say, but about living life together. They don't keep out the world from their community, they invite them in six days a week. But even though there was no sermon and no "love" offering, I knew that I would give almost anything to live in a community like this, except my biblical beliefs.

12 comments:

larswife said...

Next year - we're there with you next year (grin).

Discerner said...

Their emphasis on heritage and crafts is wonderful. Unfortunately, they are not orthodox since they deny the Trinity and hold to other troubling doctrines. Watchman Fellowship, an excellent cult research group, includes them in their Index of cults and religions:

Homestead Heritage: Elm Mott, TX, formerly Koinonia Communities or Emmaus Fellowship, is an abusive shepherding group that teaches modalism and multilevel works salvation. Their leaders claim their authority is that of “Jesus coming in the flesh.” The group operates a large farm with a crafts center and yearly public fairs. They also publish homeschool materials under the name, Essential Christian Education and Truth Forum. They were featured in the February 2005 issue of Christianity Today, and President George W. Bush chose them to construct his house in Crawford.
(http://www.wfial.org/index.cfm?fuseaction=archives.index&badUrl=http://www.wfial.org:80/archives/index)

Deception is often subtle, wrapping error in the cloak of morality.

Jen said...

Yes, Discerner, unfortunately, I am quite aware of that aspect as well. That is why we DON'T live there. I do love the concept of community living, however, and would love to live in one that was right biblically. From all the communities I've seen, however, I don't know if it would ever actually work well. This is by far the best example I've seen of one, but I won't compromise my doctrinal beliefs even for this.

But that doesn't mean I can't enjoy their annual fair, which I still enjoy VERY much!

Marvin Cotten said...

Enjoyed your review. We went there for our second time this weekend and really enjoyed it. I did not know about the doctrinal deviations, though I have been wondering what their theology was. We have discussed looking into living there ourselves, but clearly this would not be possible in view of what I now understand.

Sprittibee said...

I've met some of the nice people that live there at homeschool book fairs. I really hope we can get to visit there. Regardless of their biblical doctrines (which would prevent me from wanting to move in), they really do have the community thing right. I wish that the whole world lived like this... and there was no such thing as cloned meat and GM fruits and veggies. Seems like pharm companies are trying to kill us all off.

Luke C said...

I grew up in that church and I regard them as a CULT. If the world knew what Really has happened over the years it would blow peoples minds.

Luke C

Gina said...

In my mind, if they seem to have so much right about how they live their lives and love their God, then perhaps it is us who have missed something. I would not fear their allegedly 'unorthodox' beliefs. Engage them in conversation and develop relationship. They treasure relationship.

watchman007 said...

Watchman Fellowship has been discredited many times with false accusations. Their attacks on Homestead Heritage is a prime example. I disagree with HH teachings, but I think they do a great work. They are in my church if they are born again of God's Spirit, no matter what their doctrine is. The Spirit will lead them into all Truth.
The Bible Book of Jude addresses false accusations.

watchman007 said...

Watchman Fellowship has been discredited many times with false accusations. Their attacks on Homestead Heritage is a prime example. I disagree with HH teachings, but I think they do a great work. They are in my church if they are born again of God's Spirit, no matter what their doctrine is. The Spirit will lead them into all Truth.
The Bible Book of Jude addresses false accusations.

Tori said...

Great review! We very much enjoy their fair and classes as well.

One thing I do find irritating, however, is when people leave comments on threads (I've seen several) that say something to the effect of, "I lived there. Oh, it was horrible. If only people knew what really went on..." If you lived there and know what "really" went on, why don't you just come out and say who you are, who did what and make your accusations with a face. Hiding in anonymity on the Internet making negative allegations against a group seems very cowardly to me. If you're telling the truth, what do you have to fear? Just come out and call out the false doctrine, name the predators, name the victims, name the instances and be done with it. But the "Oooh, I know what really happens there, but i can't say what it was." stuff is getting old.

The Koelln Family said...

Jen,

I just recently read your review of homestead heritage and am familiar with your experience at D. Phillips church. My question to you is, why would you pay money and financially support (by going to fair and buying furniture)an abusive cult that hurts other Christians? Do you still spend money at VisionForum? I wouldn't blame you if you didn't. Just giving food for thought.

snapwink said...

Just for the record if there is anything close to community with Jesus it's not here or there but within you! Jesus lives inside of you and community is not something to get or setup but is a natural by product(or should) of those who have whole heartedly given their lives to Jesus. WE'VE BEEN SOLD A BILL OF GOODS! I'm telling the first century church lived in community not because they had pottery or horses or land but because they had Jesus. No matter what culture or business or whatever. I just kinda a wonder why we don't invest our lives into each others and give Jesus a chance to flow through on a daily basis into each others lives! Come on people you know what I'm talking about! Wake up and smell the coffee! Christ is coming back for His bride prepared and its not about Maple ice cream! Please please don't sell your birthright for something like this or anything short of God highest and best! What does He desire of you? He desires you to be led by Jesus Christ the living person inside of you!! in everything you do:) Whatever it be! Don't let some man or woman still your birthright to being an active part of the body! We are called the body for reason right? People connected and joined together by every supporting ligament right? Not just once a week or once a month or potluck but people connected to each other!!! How do you relate to your family? Do you see ya in two weeks and take care....make sure you let me know if the cancer is gone....or let me know if you need help with car or teeth or whatever no! You pray, you love, you teach , you admonish, you encourage, you reach out and show them Jesus! So why wouldn't you do that with others who share in your inheritance as daughters and sons of the most high GOD!! Come on brothers! Come one sisters! lets seek Jesus and find out how He treats His family and go for it! Forget the details, they will come....just like they do for your family? right? Be led by the King of Kings to love and encourage your brothers and sisters! Love in Yeshuah C.W.