Jimmy Carter remains star attraction at hometown church

PLAINS, Georgia --The crowd gathers in front of Maranatha Baptist Church at dawn, 5 hours before the lesson begins to see the man teaching Sunday school.

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Crowds line up at dawn to see former President Carter speak at Maranatha Baptist Church in Plains, Georgia

CBS News

In Plains, Georgia, President Jimmy Carter has taught at his hometown church for nearly 35 years. Jan Williams has worked with him the whole time.

"Mr. Jimmy is one of the kindest Southern gentlemen who speaks what he thinks, stands up for what he believes in, never been ashamed to say he was a Christian," said Williams.

"I don't think once you're a politician you ever get over being a politician. He loves the crowds."

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Jan Williams has worked for President Carter for nearly 35 years

CBS News

Those crowds have multiplied since the 91-year-old former president announced his cancer diagnosis in August.

Julie Marshall came from North Carolina."To the Carters this is just another Sunday, but to those of us who are here, this is a day we will never forget."

Even through his cancer treatments, he never missed a Sunday lesson. And it was in that very church on last Sunday that he broke the news.

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Former President Jimmy Carter leads Sunday school at his hometown church

CBS News

"When I went this week, they didn't find any cancer at all, so I have good news," Carter told the crowd.

"He's gonna be here for a long time to come I hope," Williams said through tears.

Giving lessons from the good book to anyone who will listen.

  • Michelle Miller

    Michelle Miller is an award-winning CBS News correspondent based in New York, reporting for all CBS News broadcasts and platforms. Her work regularly appears on the "CBS Evening News with Scott Pelley", "CBS This Morning" and "CBS Sunday Morning with Charles Osgood". She joined CBS News in 2004.