“Why don’t we go to Jimmy Carter’s Sunday School Class?” I asked.
The idea came up fast. I’d just read an interview with Carter in the newspaper and was reminded of his Sunday morning classes, taught almost weekly at Maranatha Baptist Church in his hometown of Plains, Georgia. Since we live only five and a half hours from Plains, the decision to go was easy. In an instant (unlike most decisions we make) Rick and I began preparing for our trip!
Included in our plans was a several-hour stop in Savannah, Georgia, a city we had wanted to visit for some time. We arrived on Saturday morning, barely in time to honor our reservations for a bicycle tour of the beautiful downtown. After a delicious lunch and a walk in a downtown park, we traveled to a small town near Plains where we stayed overnight. Awakening to a five-thirty Sunday morning alarm, we dressed, downed a bit of breakfast, and arrived at the church by 6:30 a.m., where we waited for the eight a.m. seating in the sanctuary.
Prior to the class, one of the church’s members led us in an orientation and information session. I learned that the class hosted attendees from a variety of states as well as a number of countries, including France, Panama, Germany, Guatemala, and India. (We were told that at one of Carter’s recent classes, forty-eight countries were represented!)
During this orientation, I learned more than I’d known before about the Carters’ generosity and commitment to peace between nations and wellness for all people. The Carters, Jimmy and Rosalynn, have given to others through teaching, writing, working for human rights, and building homes for Habitat for Humanity. Through their Foundation, the Carter Center, they have alleviated suffering from disease around the world.
As Carter began his class, his soft-spoken and caring message filled the sanctuary with a gentle, kind atmosphere. The audience listened to this wise and thoughtful man who spoke with humility and breadth of knowledge. Never preachy or dogmatic, Carter opened the hearts and minds of his audience, reminding us that everyone can choose to become better persons.
I left the church that morning inspired, grateful, and hopeful. Many thanks to Rosalynn and Jimmy Carter for their selfless, caring work.