In Cotton Patch Gospel, Jesus is born in Gainesville, Ga., in 1972. Instead of Pharisees, the Cotton Patch Jesus is faced with holier-than-thou modern preachers. Instead of a corrupt Roman regime, he faces an evil governor in Atlanta. Instead of a parable in which a Samaritan saves a beaten Jew, this Jesus tells of a black man saving a white man lying by the side of the road.
Though he insists that his strengths do not lie in organization, Golden is obviously capable of getting a show off the ground. In addition to organizing the musicians and production for the show itself, he also contacted churches, venues, and media sources to promote the three productions of Cotton Patch Gospel. Yet Golden prefers to give credit to others, including a long list of divinity school staff and faculty who helped make Cotton Patch come to life.
Golden, a 1998 graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, co-founded Mojo Productions while in college. Among Mojo’s accomplishments were various performances of Cotton Patch Gospel, including a 2001 production that raised about $25,000 for Habitat for Humanity International. Those funds went to rebuild homes in El Salvador destroyed by an earthquake. He sees potential in using theater as a missions fund-raising vehicle, and has long been especially captivated by Cotton Patch’s ability to both raise money and change lives.
A Charlotte native, Golden studied for a year at Columbia Theological Seminary in Decatur, Ga., and then transferred to the Master of Divinity program at Duke. He works as the temporary supply pastor at Troy Presbyterian Church in Troy, N.C. He treasures his experience as a student pastor and speaks about his parishioners with love and admiration.
On the stage, behind the pulpit, and in the classroom, Franklin Golden’s time is stretched. The question, “How does he
do it?” may continue to pose a mystery. But the question “Why does he do it?” is one Golden answers with ease.
William E. Pike D’03 is the program coordinator for Caring Communities, an initiative of the Theology and Medicine Program of Duke Divinity School.
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