Former President Jimmy Carter’s Sunday School class at Maranatha Baptist Church is one of the biggest tourist attractions these days in his southwest Georgia hometown.
The church has just 130 members, but it was host to 3,700 visitors in 1994. The parking lot was recently expanded to accommodate more buses and vans.
Jack and Gwen Hutchison of Thamesford, Ontario, stopped by on a recent Sunday during their annual camping trip through the South.
“President Carter is honest and down to earth,” Mrs. Hutchison said. “And we like the music here.”
Carter has been teaching Sunday School at Maranatha since he joined the church 12 years ago. He teaches about 75 percent of the Sundays, and the nearby Jimmy Carter National Historic Site distributes his schedule.
The class is held in the church sanctuary, which seats 275 but can be expanded with folding chairs.
The church doesn’t mind all the visitors, said Nelle Ariail, wife of the pastor.
“We just consider we’re doing a ministry of hospitality,” she said.