Sunday School at Maranatha Baptist Church in Plains, Georgia

Here’s the bottom line of this blog: If you’ve never attended Maranatha Baptist Church in Plains, Georgia, to hear President Jimmy Carter teach Sunday school, you need to put that on your short term bucket list.

This is a unique experience. One-of-a-kind. Unparalleled. This humble Christian, former President of the most powerful nation on earth and winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, stands in front of a sanctuary full (about 300 people) of pilgrims to Plains almost every Sunday. He delivers, without notes, his understanding of a selected Bible text.

Maranatha Baptist Church invited me to preach for them today (April 30) and next Sunday (May 7). Home from my four months in Connecticut, I gladly accepted.

Long an admirer of Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter, I’ve looked forward to being in Plains at the same time as the Carters so I could participate in Sunday school at Maranatha Baptist Church. My daughter Julie and I attended the Baptist World Alliance in Birmingham, England, in 2005, and President Carter taught the Sunday school lesson there to a couple thousand of us gathered in a civic arena of some sort. That was a good, but different, experience.

The church members of Maranatha, a small congregation, are the unsung heroes of this ministry. They arrive at the church as early as 5:30 on Sunday morning to begin their hospitality ministry to out-of-town, out-of-state, and out-of-country guests. This morning, worshipers gathered from half a dozen or more countries and twenty or thirty states. The locals are gracious in sharing their church with visitors from afar, as well as with Secret Service agents. Before Sunday school, the church’s guests are given an often-humorous lecture about protocol, what to expect, and what not to expect. No clapping. You don’t clap for your Sunday school teacher, after all, do you? Today, Jill Stuckey gave the speech. She charmed everyone, but she was also clear about appropriate behavior. This is a Baptist church, after all. You can’t be too careful.

After church, members and guests are likely to adjourn to The Cafeteria, a local eatery owned by Jody Monts. I ate supper there Saturday night, pork chops and turnips, and she asked me if I was in town to go to Sunday school. I told her I was preaching. I ate lunch there again today, baked chicken, dressing, collards, and sweet potato pie. There were other choices, but snails were not on the menu if you’re hoping for French food. This is Southern cooking. I’ll weigh four hundred pounds by this time next week.

I’ve not been in Plains for twenty-four hours yet. But I’m enthusiastic about being here. Nearby is Koinonia Farms and I’m going there tomorrow with a church member. I’ll report on the remainder of the week, I’m sure, but I wanted to get this message across:

Plan a trip to Jimmy Carter’s Sunday school class at Maranatha Baptist Church in Plains, Georgia. You’ll thank yourself later!

Categories: Faith/Spirituality, Holiday, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

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6 thoughts on “Sunday School at Maranatha Baptist Church in Plains, Georgia

  1. texsc

    Pansy and I were there several years ago, so I recognize much of what you’re saying. I guess their routine and their script doesn’t change much. Did you get to have your picture made with the Carters? When we were there, those who wanted to get pictures handed their cameras to the picture taker who took one picture. I guess they might have permitted more than one if the first one went bad. This happened after the worship service for those who stuck around for Sunday school and then “church.”
    We, too, admire President Carter. So I can say, “Been there, done that. You go too. He may not be around too many more years.”

  2. Karenmartin

    That would be awesome! Do you have to sign up ahead of time or do you just show up?

  3. James E.(Earl) Williams

    Went two years ago with our daughter and two grandsons one of whom is autistic. He was enthralled. All of us were impressed with the charm and sincerity of the Carters. The security officers fascinated me with their professionalism and behavior. The next day after our visit the announcement was made that he would be treated for brain cancer. Thank God he is in remission. Blessings as you supply the pulpit.

  4. Anonymous

    On my bucket list.

  5. dhamm2014

    What a marvelous opportunity, Marion! Blessings, friend.

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