By: Shelby Barnes, 2nd Year- Behavioral Sciences and Health Education
Former President Jimmy Carter hosts the Annual Carter Town Hall, an Emory tradition that started in the early 80’s. This event is open to all students and is usually sometime in the fall semester. If you attend Rollins, you’ll soon understand the relationship between Emory and the Carters. Both President Carter and Mrs. Carter have made significant contributions to the field of public health. President Carter has also held many other professions: Naval officer, peanut farmer, and politician (Governor of Georgia) before becoming President of the United States. He is now a highly recognized global humanitarian. I have heard President Carter speak twice at the Carter Town Halls but wanted to get a different experience and learn more about the Carters.
A few weeks ago, I travelled down to Plains, Georgia to visit the home of our 39th President. This trip included a Sunday church service at Maranatha Baptist Church, lunch at The Cafeteria and a visit to the Jimmy Carter National Historic Site.
Plains, Georgia is a quaint little town about 3 hours away from Atlanta with a population of about 565. The “home” of President Carter has plenty of history including his Boyhood Farm, the Plains School (which houses the National Historic Site), a large peanut statue, President Carter’s Presidential Campaign Headquarters, and the Maranatha Baptist Church, where he delivers his Sunday school lessons and attends church with Mrs. Carter.
It’s not every day that you find yourself at church with a former President and former First Lady, so this opportunity is once in a lifetime! (Unless you go more than once)
The members of the Maranatha Baptist Church are incredibly welcoming and keep their Sunday church services running like a well-oiled machine. When you arrive, they will assign your vehicle a number and that will be used to line up outside of the church. Of course, all attendees have to go through security and they ask that you only bring in what you absolutely need. The day starts early but is completely worth it! You don’t have to be of the same religion or denomination as President Carter to attend his Sunday school or the church service. People travel from all around the world to Plains, GA just to hear President Carter give his Sunday school lessons and visit the hometown of our 39th President.
My day in a nutshell (Sorry, I had to crack some peanut jokes):
● 4:00AM—Hit the road to Plains, GA
● 7:00AM—Arrived in Plains at the Maranatha Baptist Church
● 8:00AM—Got in line to enter the church
● 9:00AM—Visitor orientation
● 10:00AM—President Carter’s Sunday school
● 11:00AM—Sunday worship
● 12:00PM—Pictures with the Carters **completely worth getting up at 3:30AM!!**
● 12:30PM—Ate lunch at The Cafeteria (It’s one of the only restaurants open on a Sunday in Plains!)
● 1:30PM—Visited Jimmy Carter National Historic Site
● 3:00PM—Stopped in downtown Plains to go to a few stores and see President Carter’s Presidential Campaign Headquarters
● 3:30PM—Left Plains
● 6:30PM—Returned home to Atlanta, GA
There is much to be explored beyond the city of Atlanta that can be made into a day trip. See the links above for more information, grab some friends, and head on down to Plains!