Twelve Tribes Community in Chattanooga

Last updated: March 7, 2011 (5 years ago)

Listing created on: April 16, 2006

Twelve Tribes Community in Chattanooga

(Chattanooga, Tennessee, United States)

  • Status: Established (At least 4+ adults, 2+ years)
  • Started Planning: 1972
  • Start Living Together: 1972
  • Visitors accepted: Yes
  • Open to new Members: Yes
  • Please read the details in Membership below before contacting this community.
  • Website address:
  • Contact Name: Ed Wiseman
  • Phone: 423-698-6591
  • Address:
    316 N Seminole
    Chattanooga, Tennessee, 37411
    United States

Mission Statement:

The Spread of Love

Community Description:

Between 1972 and 1978 we lived in several homes in Chattanooga, Tennessee, on Vine Street, growing from just a handful of people to about 150. We ran seven restaurants known as “Yellow Delis”—three in Chattanooga and four in neighboring towns. Our purpose was to live a whole-hearted life and to obey the scriptures as explained in Acts 2 and 4—to share a common life together learning how to love like our Master, Yahshua (Jesus), did. We devoted ourselves to “serving the fruit of the spirit” at all of our Yellow Delis throughout the region.

Since then we have traveled to New England, the Midwest, the West Coast, and Canada, throughout Europe, and even South America and Australia to take the life that we found to these many other places. We have also raised a lot of children, many who are following our footsteps and taking on our faith.

Over the past 35 years we have grown to several thousand members, with over 50 communities in 10 countries. We are known as the Twelve Tribes and you can learn more about us at

We have returned to Chattanooga, Tennessee, our original starting place, and have opened a new Yellow Deli at 737 McCallie Avenue, and we have community homes where people can live together, overcoming the enemies that divide mankind and to achieve instead a life of peace and love. At the new Yellow Deli, which is located on the campus of UTC, we are promoting free speech through symposiums and open forums.
Our desire is to reach out to the people who live in the Chattanooga area, our spawning ground 35 years ago, and to show them a viable demonstration of love being lived out and perfected in unity.

We welcome everyone to visit us at our new residence located at 900 Oak Street in the Fort Wood district. This house is being used as a center for hospitality and for people we meet to get to know what we’re all about.

Child Rearing Practice of the Twelve Tribes Communities

We train our children according to the Word of God as recorded in the Bible. Part of this training is correcting our little ones for errant behavior. Setting boundaries for our children is an integral part of building good character into them at a young age. Loving protection for children is of supreme importance to us. We do not tolerate violence or abuse, whether physical, psychological, or verbal, nor do we condone disrespectful or rebellious behavior. We believe it is the God-given right and responsibility of parents to discipline their children if they are disobedient or disrespectful to parental guidance.

God is love. He loves children and His word is clear on what it means to love your child as Proverbs 13:24 says: “Whoever spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is diligent to discipline him.” Proverbs 23:13-14 makes it clear that spanking is an act of love to save your children from the destruction of their souls, and restore them to the way they should go. “Do not withhold discipline from a child; if you strike him with a rod … you will save his soul from destruction.” And Proverbs 22:6 states that if you “train up a child in the way he should go, when he is old he will not depart from it.”

The Bible does not describe the rod itself, but surely God did not intend something that would damage a child. We use a thin, reed-like rod, which stings but causes no damage or injury. We have purposefully chosen this method, inspired by God’s love, as part of our child rearing practices because His Word commands us. We see the good fruit in our children, which is recognized all over the world, even by those who don’t understand it.

Because we love our children, we discipline them only for attitudes and actions they know to be wrong, and only after the child admits to wrongdoing and is willing to receive discipline. Godly discipline is always followed by forgiveness, reconciliation, and encouragement.

For a fuller statement about our thinking about Child Discipline, please visit:

Publisher’s Note: FIC has a policy of not listing communities in our Directory that advocate violent practices, and there is controversy over whether the Twelve Tribes Child Discipline practice crosses that line. While we are convinced of the sincerity of their belief that their practice is not violent, we are also aware of visitors and ex-members who hold that it is. In recognition of this controversy, the Twelve Tribes leadership agreed to have this note referenced as a regular part of each community’s listing, so that users of the Directory could be more fully informed and make their own decision about this important matter.


  • Type(s): Commune (organized around sharing almost everything)


  • Current Number of Residences: 1
  • Land owned by: The Community


  • Adult Members: 40
  • Child Members: 15
  • Percent Women: 50%
  • Percent Men: 50%
  • Visitors accepted: Yes
  • Visitor Process: Our doors are always open! Give us a call, write, or just drop by. You can come for a day or to stay. Check our other Twelve Tribes’ Communities that are listed to learn more about us.
  • Open to new Members: Yes
  • Membership Process: We are constantly seeking to share what we have!


  • Decision Making: By a board, council, group of elders, or leadership group
  • Identified Leader: No
  • Leadership Core Group: Yes
  • Additional Comments: We are learning to recognize the grace and wisdom in each person, all are able to speak from the Spirit who leads us


  • Shared Income: 100%
  • Required Labor Contribution per Week: 0
  • Additional Comments: Like the bees, we are all for one and one for all.

    If you don’t work you don’t eat, right?

Sustainability Practices

  • Current food produced: 0%, or close to 0%


  • Shared meals: Approximately all meals
  • Dietary Practice: Omnivorous (plants and animals)
  • Dietary Choice or Restrictions: Very important – we all share a common diet.
  • Alcohol Use: No~ this community does not permit alcohol use.
  • Tobacco Use: No~ this community does not permit tobacco use.

Additional Comments

Our worldwide communites began in Chattanooga. We left there in the late 70s to establish many other communites, but now weare back!

Photo Gallery

Community Network or Organization Affiliations

Twelve Tribes

Community Affiliations

Twelve Tribes, Twelve Tribes Communauté de Heimsbrunn, Twelve Tribes Communauté de Sus, Twelve Tribes Community at Peppercorn Creek Farm, Twelve Tribes Community at Stentwood Farm, Twelve Tribes Community At Stepping Stone Farm, Twelve Tribes Community at the Morning Star Ranch, Twelve Tribes Community in Arcadia, Twelve Tribes Community in Asheville, Twelve Tribes Community in Bellows Falls, Twelve Tribes Community in Boston, Twelve Tribes Community in Brunswick, Twelve Tribes Community in Cambridge, Twelve Tribes Community in Chattanooga, Twelve Tribes Community in Coxsackie, Twelve Tribes Community in Hamburg, Twelve Tribes Community in Hyannis, Twelve Tribes Community in Irún, Twelve Tribes Community in Island Pond, Twelve Tribes Community in Ithaca, Twelve Tribes Community in Katoomba, Blue Mountains, Twelve Tribes Community in Lancaster, Twelve Tribes Community in Manitou Springs, CO, Twelve Tribes Community in Nelson, Twelve Tribes Community in Hillsboro, VA, Twelve Tribes Community in Oak Hill, Twe

We happily link to the following organizations, all of whom share our strong commitment to promoting community and a more cooperative world:
Cohousing The Federation of Egalitarian Communities - Communes Coop Community Cooperative Sustainable Intentional North American Students of Cooperation Global Ecovillage Network