Homestead Heritage

A self-sustaining intentional Christian community known for its agrarian lifestyle, craftsmanship, and rich educational culture.

Homestead Heritage is an agrarian- and craft-based intentional Christian community located near Waco, Texas. Founded on the principles of simplicity, sustainability, self-sufficiency, cooperation, service, and quality craftsmanship, the community is not officially affiliated with any larger denomination but shares common beliefs with various Christian traditions. The community emphasizes the importance of agrarian life, seasonal cycles, and craftsmanship as core aspects of their daily lives and spiritual practice.

Origins and Development

The origins of Homestead Heritage trace back to the 1970s in New York City. Seeking a more authentic and direct engagement with life’s essential activities, the founding members began to explore agriculture and self-sufficiency, eventually leading them to establish a community that emphasizes teaching their own children, home birthing, and caring for the elderly and disabled within a familial setting. Their journey led them from New York to Colorado, where they initially rented land for farming before purchasing a larger farm. This move marked a significant step towards realizing their vision of a self-sustaining community.

Community Life and Beliefs

Homestead Heritage is home to approximately 1,000 members and encompasses a craft village, farming land, pastures, and housing across 510 acres. The community prides itself on a lifestyle that values sustainability, agriculture, self-sufficiency, and craftsmanship. While nondenominational, Homestead Heritage acknowledges its Anabaptist roots, incorporating beliefs and practices that resonate with various Christian groups including Baptists, Mennonites, and Methodists.

Educational and Craft Endeavors

The community is internationally recognized for its quality craftsmanship, offering a context in which both adults and children can learn essential skills passed down through generations. Homestead Craft Village, a significant part of the community, offers tours, activities, learning opportunities, and craft shops, where visitors can explore and purchase handcrafted items, organic products, and partake in classes on crafts and homesteading skills.

Controversies and Challenges

Despite its peaceful and productive ethos, Homestead Heritage has faced criticism and controversy. Some former members have described the community’s environment as controlling, with strict rules governing dress, technology use, and public conduct. Public reprimands and disciplining, including shunning and denouncing as antichrists those who leave the group, have been cited as practices within the community. The leadership’s stance on technology is selective, used only for educational or work-related purposes, to avoid detracting from personal relationships and connection with nature.

Moreover, the community has been the subject of scrutiny by organizations like Watchman Fellowship, which has labeled it a cult based on theological disagreements. Homestead Heritage, however, maintains that its practices and beliefs are in pursuit of a genuine Christian life, emphasizing unity, simplicity, and a return to fundamental Christian teachings.

Homestead Heritage represents a unique fusion of Christian spirituality, agrarian lifestyle, and community craftsmanship. Its commitment to living according to the rhythms of nature, teaching traditional crafts, and fostering a strong community spirit stands in contrast to modern societal norms. However, the community’s practices and beliefs, particularly around discipline and membership, have led to external criticism and internal challenges, highlighting the complex dynamics at play within this distinct group.