ATLANTA (Reuters) - The Georgia church where Jimmy Carter teaches Sunday school lessons said it would limit visitors starting this weekend to deal with crowds hoping to see the former U.S. president who is undergoing treatment for cancer.
Maranatha Baptist Church in Plains, Georgia, where Carter taught two classes last Sunday to accommodate attendance, said on Thursday on its website that it had room for only 400 people “from a practical and safety standpoint.”
The church, which seats about 300 people in its sanctuary, was packed last Sunday after Carter, 90, announced to the world that cancer had spread to his brain.
The church said that on Sunday mornings visitors would be given numbers “to ensure orderly and fair entrance into President Carter’s class.” Another hundred or so people would be permitted to watch the class on a television in the church’s Fellowship Hall.
It said overflow crowds would be directed to the old Plains High School to hear Carter’s class through an audio feed.
“The Carters will only pose for photos with those who are able to fit into the space at Maranatha Baptist church,” the church said.
Carter, a lifelong Baptist and deacon who has taught classes at the church for more than two decades, is scheduled to teach next Sunday and six other dates in September and October.
“I intend to keep on teaching here at Maranatha as long as I’m able,” Carter told the packed sanctuary on Sunday.
Carter served as president from 1977 to 1981. After leaving office he became active in humanitarian causes and monitoring elections in other countries. He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2002.
Carter said earlier in August that he had undergone surgery to remove a tumor from his liver and that he was receiving radiation treatment after the cancer spread to his brain.
“I am perfectly at ease with whatever comes,” Carter said during an August 20 press conference, noting his deep Christian faith. “Now I feel this is in the hands of God.”
Reporting by Mike Cooper; Editing by David Adams, Toni Reinhold