PLAINS, Ga. - Former President Jimmy Carter had every intention of being back in church to teach Sunday school today. It wasn’t until midday Saturday that he let his family know he’d decided to take a little more time to rest following his recent surgery.
“He’s tired and wants to recuperate,” said his niece Kim Fuller, who taught in his place. “I think it took more out of him than he thought.”
Fuller’s sister, Jana Carter, made welcoming remarks before the lesson began. She said their uncle is “doing all right” and is disappointed he’s not in church to teach Sunday school this Sunday as he’d planned.
“He’s so resilient,” she said, adding that the family is glad he’s taking a little more downtime.
On the Sundays when Carter teaches, the parking lot is bustling long before the sun comes up. Volunteers arrive early in the morning to welcome folks who show up as early as 1 or 2 a.m.
Good morning from Maranatha Baptist Church in lovely Plains Ga. President Carter was scheduled to teach this morning but decided to take a little more time to rest up following recent surgery. pic.twitter.com/LVq2RfoJjP— Jennifer Brett (@Jennifer__Brett) May 19, 2019
Security is also very strict on “Jimmy Sundays,” as Fuller called them, when the U.S. Secret Service is on hand. Things were a bit more relaxed Sunday.
The sanctuary was not quite full on Sunday, but there was a pretty good turnout -- and everyone was warmly welcomed.
“I can’t wait to tell him how many people still came,” the Rev. Tony Lowden said. Earlier, he played the voicemail from Carter inviting him to lead the church.
“The day after his surgery, the physical therapist came in. (Carter) was jumping up halfway out of the bed, saying, ‘Come on! Let’s get this going!’” Lowden said. “He’s 94. He’s up and walking up and down the hall.”
While he’s amazed by his parishioner’s spirit and strength, Lowden has no doubt about its source.
“It’s the presence of God inside him that’s challenging him to live for Christ,” he said. “That’s why he wanted to be here so bad. He wanted to tell you about Christ even though he needed rest.”