Former US president Jimmy Carter has returned to church for the first time in months after receiving the Covid-19 vaccine. President Carter attended Maranatha Baptist Church in Tiny Plains, Georgia, on Sunday, along with his wife, Rosalynn Carter, who has also had the jab.
The elderly pair were seen taking up their customary spots in the front row of the church sanctuary, receiving applause from members as they walked in. They were both wearing face masks.
"They’ve both had their shots," Pastor Tony Lowden said from the pulpit, joking that if someone gets tackled by a member of the president's secret service security detail, “it's because we're still practicing social distancing".
Maranatha posted a number of service rules to its Facebook page, noting that that masks and temperature checks are mandatory. There is also a policy of limited building capacity, reservations and no photographs.
In accordance with the security measures surrounding the former president, all guests and members have to be searched upon entry to the church.
President Carter has become known for his longstanding commitment to his church's Sunday school, having taught the Bible since he was a teenager. However, according to Maranatha Baptist's website, President Carter will NOT be teaching Sunday School "until further notice".
Carter hit the headlines in 2019 after returning to the Sunday school less than two weeks after breaking his pelvis in a fall. Entering the hall slowly with the help of a walker, and with 400 attendees eager to hear his teaching, Carter said cheerily: “Morning, everybody!" He was reportedly advised against teaching so soon after a fall, but went ahead anyway.
"He is pouring out that you might see Christ while he is suffering,” Pastor Lowden said of Carter's message, which was on life and death.
“The greatest thing I’ve learned as a pastor here is watching J.C. follow J.C.."
In his book 'Faith: A Journey for All', Carter famously wrote:
“God is not my personal valet. God does not build a protective fence around my life, keep me from trouble, fulfill my personal desires, or guarantee my success. However, through prayer God offers me comfort, reassurance, satisfaction, courage, hope, and peace.”