Want to attend a Jimmy Carter Sunday School class? I’ve been and it’s definitely a once-in-a-lifetime experience! Below, you’ll find information for planning your trip to Maranatha Baptist Church in Plains, Georgia to attend former President Carter’s class!
No matter what side of the aisle you’re on or what you think of his presidency, one thing is for sure – the peanut farmer from Georgia certainly turned out to be one amazing humanitarian.
His smile is also quite contagious – the grin will win!
The Carter Center, his non-profit organization has worked since the early 80’s to advance human rights and improve the quality of life for people all over the world. He’s received countless honors and awards for all his humanitarian efforts.
Just this past month, he became the oldest living president in U.S. history – he doesn’t show many signs of slowing down though. He still teaches a Sunday school class at his church in his hometown of Plains, Georgia twice every month. A couple of friends and I put attending one of his classes at the top of our list last year and just before Christmas, we crossed that one off the bucket list!
Maranatha Baptist Church: Jimmy Carter Sunday School Class
Y’all, it was truly an honor to attend this man’s Sunday school class. His message that day centered around waking up everyday and choosing to have hope even when there are so many negative things going on in the world. It was a simple message, but one that can make a very positive impact on your attitude.
Just from hearing him talk for an hour, it was so obvious how much of a caring and thoughtful man he is. Positivity and humanity just radiate from him.
If attending one of President Carter’s classes is something you’re adding to your list, here’s a little more information to help you plan.
Travel to the Plains, Georgia Area
My crew drove from Chattanooga down to the Plains area. It was part of our Fried Green Tomatoes Road Trip and for us, it was about a five hour drive. It wasn’t a bad drive at all though- lots of state highways with beautiful scenery.
If the drive would be too much for you, then your best bet is going to be to fly into the Atlanta airport and then rent a car and drive the rest of the way. It’s about 135 miles from Atlanta to Plains.
Where to Stay
Plains, Georgia where Maranatha Baptist Church is and where the Carters still live is very small. The only lodging I found there was the Plains Historic Inn. Most people stay in Americus, Georgia when visiting Plains, which is about 20 minutes away. This was what we opted to do and stayed at the Americus Garden Inn.
It was a very lovely bed and breakfast and the hosts, Kim and Susan, were incredibly welcoming and helpful. They knew we were attending the Sunday school service the following morning and would be leaving before breakfast was served, so they packed each of us a to-go breakfast.
Another hotel option in the Americus area is the historic Windsor Hotel.
We didn’t stay here, but we did have dinner at one of the restaurants here on Saturday night and the hotel was absolutely beautiful. The food was great too!
Attending Jimmy Carter’s Sunday school class at Maranatha Baptist Church
The Sunday school Class is held in the sanctuary of President Carter’s church, Maranatha Baptist Church in Plains, Georgia. As of right now, President Carter teaches two classes per month. You can find his schedule here.
Get There Early
The class starts at 10am (eastern time), however you’re going to need to be there much earlier. Our group of three got to the church at 5:30am. Upon arrival, every car is stopped and given a number. We were number 53 – so that means that yes, before 5:30, there were already 52 other cars ahead of us.
Doors will open and seating will begin at 8am, going by the number you were given upon arrival. There are overflow rooms if the crowd is larger than what the sanctuary will hold, but the limit of people inside the church is capped at 475.
Other Attractions to See in Plains, Georgia
After the Sunday school service, you can stay for the church service of course and afterwards, you can have the opportunity to have your photo taken with President and Mrs. Carter. Unfortunately, we had a good drive back home ahead of us and we wanted to see some of the other historical sites and attractions in the area before leaving, so we left after the Sunday school service. As Jason said, “It’s enough for me to know that I was here and heard him.”
If you have some time, be sure to check out some of these other places in Plains…
The Train Depot: President Carter’s Presidential Campaign Headquarters
Jimmy Carter used the old train depot in Plains as his Presidential Campaign Headquarters.
The depot is filled with information and memorabilia from the campaign. They even have one of the old televisions in a cabinet from the 70s set up and continuously playing clips from the campaign trail.
Plains Trading Post
If you are a history buff or presidential campaign buff, then you absolutely must stop at the Plains Trading Post.
The Plains Trading Post is filled with all kinds of campaign memorabilia from countless presidential campaigns – even back to Lincoln! I am a sucker for the old campaign buttons and so I bought one from each presidential race from Kennedy forward. I turned them into ornaments for my USA Christmas tree. 🙂
Jimmy Carter’s Boyhood Farm
Also located in Plains, is Jimmy Carter’s childhood home and farm he grew up on.
The house is open to tour, as well as what was once a little store to the right of it. The house is decorated and furnished as it would have been when Jimmy still lived there with his family.
We really enjoyed perusing through each room and learning more about how he grew up and what it was like in Plains back then. We were there just before Christmas, so the house was simply decorated for Christmas and I absolutely loved seeing them using a wagon as part of their Christmas decor – one of my favorite Christmas decorating moves!
You can also visit other spots such as the historical Plains High school and more, which you can read about here.
This was such a great trip and I’m so glad I have friends who are nerdy history people like me and love to mark things like this off their bucket lists too!
If you missed it, on the way down to Plains, we stopped in Juliette, Georgia where Fried Green Tomatoes was filmed and ate at The Whistle Stop Cafe, then wandered around that area – we had a ball! Read all about that here!
You might also want to read about these trips too…
A Chattacation: Things to Do in Chattanooga, TN
A Trip Along the World’s Longest Yard Sale
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That is so cool! Jimmy Carter is such a good man.
It was really cool, Emma. I’m so glad we were able to go! And yes, he is such a good man.
Candy Thomas says
Wow! I have always love President Carter and I really appreciate this post so much!!
He really is great! I’m so glad the post was helpful to you, Candy!
Thanks for this post, Jenna. President Carter is such an inspirational man. I’ve read all of his books, but it never occurred to me to go to one of his Sunday School classes! I might have to put this on my bucket list!
Oh you must, Beckie!! It was such a wonderful experience! You won’t regret it!
I would love to hear Jimmy Carter speak, and visit his childhood farm. Great post!
Try to go if you can! You won’t regret it!
Amazing man. Good man. At the time of his presidency he unfortunately surrounded himself with a few inept cabinet members. That, along with the hostage crisis in Iran and soaring interest rates doomed him form getting a second term. I remember Uncle Victor once said he was too nice of a man to be President of the US. He was the first man I ever cast a vote for at age 19 for the highest office.
Kris DeFoer says
OK, that’s COOL! Love this!
It was a really cool trip, Kris!
Sharon H says
Thanks, Jenna. This was a treat to read and I’m so wanting to go there myself. But….It’s quite a ways for me to go…about 800 miles, in fact. By the time I will have an opportunity to go, he probably won’t be speaking in SS anymore….Or I will be too old to travel that far! LOL
I always liked him; he’s an honest man, a good man, and we were lucky to have him as president.
Oh no! Maybe you should take a trip nearby and make that a side trip. 🙂 You’re right though – he is a very honest, good man.
Stephanie S says
He was the only Democrat I voted for. Unfortunately he was one of our many Presidents who did not like the Secret Service.
Sharon Williams says
I have to respectfully disagree with you on this point. My husband served on President Carter’s protective detail from 2010-2014, just shy of 5 years. He and the other agents found him to be friendly, gracious, and respectful of the job they performed for him and Mrs. Carter. I had the opportunity to meet him and Mrs. Carter twice at the agents’ Christmas party and they were both lovely and expressed thanks for the stresses their then very active travel schedule put on our families.
Jenna, I enjoyed reading this so much! It was a stressful time in our lives but we enjoyed living in the Deep South (Albany) for a few years. Delta flies direct from Atlanta to Albany, which is 45 minutes south of Plains, so that’s another great option to avoid the longer drive from Atlanta. Albany also has some interesting attractions if people wanted to take a longer trip. Thanks for the post!
It was so nice to read this- I think President Carter was the most under-rated President ever. What a great and generous man he is. I do not for the most part agree with his politics, but you can not deny he is an exceptional man.
When he was running for President I was answering the phones for the Democratic Nominating Committee when Governor Carter called. I had trouble understanding his accent, event though I grew up in the South. I don’t know why, maybe it was the phone. When he told me he was Governor of Georgia, I thought it was a prank call, because no governor ever called, they always had an underling….so I treated it as a prank call and was extremely condescending to the Governor, he always remained patient and kind and this went on for awhile, I made remarks like “ya, and I’m Abe Lincoln” and then finally he asked me my name….and prank callers never ask your name! The blood drained from my head, I felt faint….and I told him my name, he said “Well, Elizabeth, I’d like to ask you to vote for me for President of the United States” always exceedingly kind with the patience of a saint. The man is exceptional.
oh wow, Elizabeth – what a story!!!! I can’t believe that happened to you! He is absolutely an exceptional man – so true!
Joanne Boulter says
Wonderful, wonderful post! Love Jimmy Carter. Thank you for sharing.
Thanks, Joanne! He is truly a great man!
I was a small child/too young to remember his Presidency, but have always perceived him as a kind and selfless man. It’s wonderful he still connects with people in this way, thank you for sharing your experience, sounds so fun and inspiring! I love the idea of a Fried Green Tomatoes road trip!
Couldn’t agree more, Steff. It is so awesome that he still does things like this.