When they anchored in Brunswick, they found the community to their liking.
They bought a house and opened Common Ground, an organic bakery, in November. The business is operating out of the former site of a convenience store located at 802 Egmont St.
“We liked the downtown area,” said Lee Phillips, who manages the bakery. “We wanted a neighborhood bakery that people could walk to.”
Phillips said he and other members of his community sailed to Brunswick in the large blue craft that is visible at the city waterfront.
Scott Brown, a baker who is part of Phillips’ community, is originally from Massachusetts. He says he enjoys living in Brunswick.
“It’s wonderful here,” he said.
Phillips is an adherent of the Twelve Tribes, an international religious group. Local members of the group partner with groups in other communities around the world to provide a variety of products and services.
The store supports the local community of believers.
“We have a company, the Tribal Trading Co., that supplies us with tea, organic health supplements and unprocessed sugar,” Phillips said.
The bakery’s primary focus is to supply people with good bread that is good for them, Phillips said.
“We are developing a line of sourdoughs. Now, we offer a number of items made with whole wheat and spelt,” he said.
Spelt is a distant cousin to modern wheat that is naturally high in fiber and contains significantly more protein than wheat. Spelt has a tough hull, or husk, that makes it more difficult to process than modern wheat varieties. However, that husk helps the grain retain nutrients and maintain freshness.
“Whole wheat today is a hybridized grain, not an original grain anymore,” said Phillips.
Internationally, the group sells its products through cafe’s, restaurants, health food stores, co-ops and markets.
In addition to the public, the group is selling its baked goods to some resorts, coffee shops and other retail outlets in Glynn County.
According to a statement from the Twelve Tribes Web site, the group seeks to live according to the primitive pattern of the early church described in the New Testament. Members follow the teachings of Jesus, whom they call by his Hebrew name, Yahshua, and believe that disciples must renounce all possessions and independent lives to become followers.
Group members live communally, sharing all assets and income, and they adhere to a diet of whole grains, fruits and vegetables, healthy fats and herbal remedies.
The group’s members are noticeable in and around downtown Brunswick. Their appearance sets them apart from that of many area residents. Clothing styles for both sexes tend to be modest. Men have beards and tie their hair back; women wear loose-fitting clothing and head coverings at worship.
The Twelve Tribes profess many Christian beliefs in common with other groups, but remain unrelated to any denomination.
The sect has more than 25 communities worldwide. Most of them are located in the Northeastern United States, Missouri and Colorado, but there are also communities in France, Spain, Germany, England, Brazil, Argentina, Australia and Canada.
Phillips said the group plans to add a lunch menu and additional seating to the bakery in the near future.