Hoping to attend Jimmy Carter’s Sunday school class? Things to know

UPDATE: Former President Carter paused the teaching of Sunday school in late 2019. And amid the coronavirus pandemic, he has limited his appearances in public. Updates or changes in his teaching schedule are usually posted on the web site and Facebook page for his Plains, Ga. church, Maranantha Baptist. Links for both are contained in this article.

Former President Jimmy Carter’s Sunday school classes in Plains have become a hot ticket in recent years.

He teaches frequently, but not every week. Seats are filled on a first-come, first-seated basis. And they are limited.

Carter has taught Sunday school at Maranatha Baptist Church since leaving the White House in 1981, and he and his wife, Rosalynn, often pose for photos with visitors after the 11 a.m. worship service.

Here are the things you need to know about Carter's Sunday school class.

The address, phone number and Facebook page: 148 Ga. 45, Plains, Ga. 31780. 229-824-7896, Web: mbcplains.org, Facebook: facebook.com/MBCPlains/. The president's teaching schedule is generally posted several weeks in advance on both sites.

Getting a seat requires being in line early. Attendees are given a number based on the order of arrival at the church parking lot. You can't sign up ahead of time.

Seating is limited. Maximum capacity is 550 to 600 people. When seats in the sanctuary are filled, attendees will be assigned to an overflow room. When all seats are assigned, the line is cut off.

Sunday school begins at 10 a.m., but you need to arrive earlier and plan to stay later. To get a spot in line, the church suggests arriving by 5:30 a.m. "Based on recent attendance trends, visitors who arrived before 5:30 a.m. had no problem obtaining a sanctuary seat," according to the church website.

Former President Jimmy Carter teaches during Sunday School class at Maranatha Baptist Church in his hometown, Sunday, Dec. 13, 2015, in Plains, Ga. A recent MRI showing no cancer on Jimmy Carter's brain is "very positive" news for the former president but will not end his medical treatment, doctors said. Carter, 91, announced on Dec. 6 that doctors found no evidence of the four lesions discovered on his brain this summer and no signs of new cancer growth. (AP Photo/Branden Camp)

Credit: Branden Camp

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Credit: Branden Camp

What to expect: Shortly after 8 a.m., visitors with seats go through a Secret Service security check to enter the sanctuary. Visitors are asked to attend a 9 a.m. orientation. The class begins at 10 a.m. and lasts about 45 minutes. Visitors are asked to stay for the 11 a.m. worship service.

» Always on your bucket list? What it's like to attend Jimmy Carter's Sunday school class

Pictures? On Sundays when they attend, the Carters pose for pictures with those who attended. And they usually attend the worship service when they are in Plains, even on Sundays when Carter does not teach.

Watch a past Sunday School video from Carter’s church

Sunday School with President Carter:

Posted by Maranatha Baptist Church on Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Related podcast: Sunday school and Plains with Jimmy Carter: The AJC's Shane Harrison and Jill Vejnoska talk about Carter's Sunday school class in Plains. The podcast includes audio of Carter from one such class.

» Meet Rev. Tony Lowden, pastor of Jimmy Carter's church


AJC coverage of Jimmy Carter

» Jimmy Carter returns to Sunday school after breaking hip

» Photos of Jimmy Carter through the years

» Professor Carter: Jimmy Carter awarded tenure at Emory University

» Jimmy Carter breaks a hip in fall, while preparing to go turkey hunting

» President Carter celebrates 94th birthday

» One time when friends worried about Carter's busy Sunday school schedule

» President Carter visits Ebenezer, MLK's church in Atlanta

Historic Georgia sites relating to President Carter

» Guide to visiting the Jimmy Carter Historic Site in Plains

» Guide to visiting the Carter Center and Presidential Library in Atlanta