Former President Jimmy Carter taught Sunday school in his hometown of Plains, Georgia, for the first time since revealing that he was diagnosed with cancer that's spread to his brain and other parts of his body.
Carter, 90, delivered a 45-minute lesson on love and faith at Maranatha Baptist church where he has attended most of his life, according to NBC News
. It was the 689th time he'd taught there, said Carter's grandson.
Hundreds of visitors showed up at the tiny church Sunday morning that normally has a congregation of 25 to 30 people.
"He wanted to accommodate as many people as possible," Rev. Jeremy Shoulta, the pastor at Maranatha Baptist Church, told People magazine
. "He voluntarily chose to do that, and ended up being able to teach just about everyone who showed up."
Shoulta said to People that he was amazed that Carter was so engaged after receiving cancer treatment that likely could have kept him away from the church.
"That's sharing his faith and encouraging others to love one another," Shoulta told People. "He did not miss a beat. It's hard to believe that he went through a treatment just a few days ago, and comes to church today and does a marvelous job."
Carter's future classes were posted on the church's website
, subject to change, for Aug. 30; Sept. 6, 13, and 27; and Oct. 4, 18, and 25.
"Throughout his many years of Christian service, President Carter has taught us much about having resilient faith in the midst of life's trials and challenges," a message on the church's website stated. "In the same way, Maranatha Baptist Church strongly believes that God's Spirit will be present with 'Mr. Jimmy' during his upcoming treatment."
"We ask for your continued prayers for President Carter and for Mrs. Carter as she walks alongside him," the message continued.
Visitors to Maranatha included people from around the country who've admired Carter since he was in office.
"I admire his way of living, his lifestyle, the things that he did while he was in the White House," Marianne Hayward, who drove from Alabama with her family, told NBC News. "We admired him as a president, and we wanted to be here."
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