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PLAINS, Georgia — For the first time since revealing details of his cancer diagnosis, former President Jimmy Carter taught Sunday school in his hometown, drawing hundreds of well-wishers to the tiny Baptist church he has attended for much of his life.
His grandson said it was the 689th time he had taught classes there.
Before Carter started the lesson at Maranatha Baptist Church, he briefly recapped the details of his cancer diagnosis — how doctors had found that melanoma had spread to his brain after he underernt surgery to remove part of his liver.
Then, he said, "That's enough of that subject."
He next pivoted to a 45-minute lesson on faith and love.
Carter promised the crowd he would be back to take photos with them after teaching a second class at the nearby high school. He asked the crowd to come up in groups.
"If you come up by yourself, I won't say anything, but I'll wonder why you don't have any friends," Carter joked.
Last week, at the remarkable news conference where he shared the details of his diagnosis with the world, he called his hometown the focal point of his life.
"When I got through being governor, I went back to Plains," he said. "When I got through being president, I went back to Plains, and now no matter where we are in the world, you look forward to getting back home to Plains."
Typically, the local congregation is made up of 25 to 30 people. But this Sunday morning, hundreds lined up before dawn to see Carter.
"I think he’s a man of integrity," said Eidi Millington, who came all the way from Texas.
"I admire his way of living, his lifestyle, the things that he did while he was in the White House," said Marianne Hayward, who came from Alabama with her family. "We admired him as a president, and we wanted to be here."