Crowd packs former President Carter's Sunday school after his cancer spreads

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Carter Addresses Cancer Diagnosis at Church


Larger-than-usual crowds of wellwishers meant former President Jimmy Carter had to teach an extra Bible class at his rural Georgia church on Sunday, after he announced on Thursday cancer had spread to his brain.

Carter, 90, a lifelong Baptist and church deacon, has taught Sunday school for decades and the Maranatha Baptist Church in Plains, Georgia is used to a throng.

The church's website asks people to line up before 9:00 a.m. and attend an orientation before the 10 a.m. class.

Take a look at some images from Sunday's class:

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President Jimmy Carter's Sunday school
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Crowd packs former President Carter's Sunday school after his cancer spreads
FILE - In this Aug. 23, 2015 file photo, former President Jimmy Carter, sits to pose for photos after teaching Sunday School class at Maranatha Baptist Church in his hometown in Plains, Ga. Carter’s recent diagnosis that cancer has spread to his brain will require him to scale back his work, but Carter Center officials say their programs will continue uninterrupted. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
Former President Jimmy Carter teaches Sunday School classes at Maranatha Baptist Church in his hometown Sunday, Aug. 23, 2015, in Plains, Ga. The 90-year-old Carter gave one lesson to about 300 people filling the small Baptist church that he and his wife, Rosalynn, attend. It was Carter's first lesson since detailing the intravenous drug doses and radiation treatment planned to treat melanoma found in his brain after surgery to remove a tumor from his liver. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
Jan Williams gives instructions as people wait to enter Maranatha Baptist Church for Sunday School class Sunday, Aug. 23, 2015, in Plains, Ga. On Sunday morning, former President Jimmy Carter will teach his first lesson since detailing the intravenous drug doses and radiation treatment planned to treat melanoma found in his brain after surgery to remove a tumor from his liver. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
People wait in line to enter Maranatha Baptist Church for Sunday School class Sunday, Aug. 23, 2015, in Plains, Ga. On Sunday morning, former President Jimmy Carter will teach his first lesson since detailing the intravenous drug doses and radiation treatment planned to treat melanoma found in his brain after surgery to remove a tumor from his liver. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
Former President Jimmy Carter teaches Sunday School class at Maranatha Baptist Church in his hometown Sunday, Aug. 23, 2015, in Plains, Ga. The 90-year-old Carter gave one lesson to about 300 people filling the small Baptist church that he and his wife, Rosalynn, attend. It was Carter's first lesson since detailing the intravenous drug doses and radiation treatment planned to treat melanoma found in his brain after surgery to remove a tumor from his liver. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
Jan Williams give instructions to a crowd lining up to enter Maranatha Baptist Church for Sunday School class Sunday, Aug. 23, 2015, in Plains, Ga. On Sunday morning, former President Jimmy Carter will teach his first lesson since detailing the intravenous drug doses and radiation treatment planned to treat melanoma found in his brain after surgery to remove a tumor from his liver. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
PLAINS, GA- AUG 30: Kevin Ray of Hayesville, North Carolina was concerned when he heard that it was against the rules (for security reasons) to bring one's own bible to the class taught by President Carter. It turned out that the rumor was not true and bibles were welcome. After recent announcements by former President Jimmy Carter that his cancer has worsened, Americans from all over the U.S. are making the trip to see him while they still can. Mr. Carter regularly teaches Sunday School at the Maranatha Baptist Church near his home in Plains, Georgia. (Michael S. Williamson/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
FILE - In this Aug. 23, 2015 file photo, former President Jimmy Carter teaches Sunday School class at Maranatha Baptist Church in his hometown in Plains, Ga. Carter’s recent diagnosis that cancer has spread to his brain will require him to scale back his work, but Carter Center officials say their programs will continue uninterrupted. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
Former President Jimmy Carter teaches Sunday School classes at Maranatha Baptist Church in his hometown Sunday, Aug. 23, 2015, in Plains, Ga. The 90-year-old Carter gave one lesson to about 300 people filling the small Baptist church that he and his wife, Rosalynn, attend. It was Carter's first lesson since detailing the intravenous drug doses and radiation treatment planned to treat melanoma found in his brain after surgery to remove a tumor from his liver. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
PLAINS, GA- AUG 30: Folks who came to hear Jimmy Carter teach have to wait in the church sanctuary for quite a bit after going through security. To keep things interesting, Jan Williams (off camera) of the Maranatha Baptist Church tells funny stories about the president. After recent announcements by former President Jimmy Carter that his cancer has worsened, Americans from all over the U.S. are making the trip to see him while they still can. Mr. Catrer regularly teaches Sunday School at the Maranatha Baptist Church near his home in Plains, Georgia. (Michael S. Williamson/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
People take photos as former President Jimmy Carter talks to the crowd before teaching Sunday School class at Maranatha Baptist Church in his hometown of Plains, Ga., Sunday, Aug. 23, 2015. The 90-year-old Carter gave one lesson to about 300 people filling the small Baptist church that he and his wife, Rosalynn, attend. It was Carter's first lesson since detailing the intravenous drug doses and radiation treatment planned to treat melanoma found in his brain after surgery to remove a tumor from his liver. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
Charles Woernle, of Montgomery, Ala., bows his head during in prayer as former President Jimmy Carter teaches Sunday School class at Maranatha Baptist Church in his hometown Sunday, Aug. 23, 2015, in Plains, Ga. The 90-year-old Carter gave one lesson to about 300 people filling the small Baptist church that he and his wife, Rosalynn, attend. It was Carter's first lesson since detailing the intravenous drug doses and radiation treatment planned to treat melanoma found in his brain after surgery to remove a tumor from his liver. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
Former President Jimmy Carter teaches Sunday School class at Maranatha Baptist Church in his hometown Sunday, Aug. 23, 2015, in Plains, Ga. The 90-year-old Carter gave one lesson to about 300 people filling the small Baptist church that he and his wife, Rosalynn, attend. It was Carter's first lesson since detailing the intravenous drug doses and radiation treatment planned to treat melanoma found in his brain after surgery to remove a tumor from his liver. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
Former President Jimmy Carter, left, sits with his wife, Rosalynn, as they wait to pose for photos after Carter taught Sunday School class at Maranatha Baptist Church in his hometown of Plains, Ga., Sunday, Aug. 23, 2015. More than 700 people heard Carter deliver a familiar message this weekend: When your burden grows heavy, ask God for strength. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
PLAINS, GA- AUG 30: After teaching Sunday School, President Carter head for his home (which is nearby), under Secret Service protection. After recent announcements by former President Jimmy Carter that his cancer has worsened, Americans from all over the U.S. are making the trip to see him while they still can. Mr. Catrer regularly teaches Sunday School at the Maranatha Baptist Church near his home in Plains, Georgia. (Michael S. Williamson/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
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The theme of the lesson was love, Carter told the 300 people who filled the church's sanctuary, after briefly alluding to his health.

"We are studying the most important aspect of Christianity," he said, and read from the Sermon on the Mount in the Book of Matthew: "I say to you love your enemies and pay for those who persecute you."

He mentioned his conflict resolution work, including the Camp David peace agreement and negotiating a nuclear program with North Korea, and said mediation can help resolve any conflict, be it between two countries or two people.

A smiling, comfortable-looking Carter, in a dark jacket and a bolo tie, spoke from the floor at the front of the room.

Carter taught a second Bible class before returning to the church sanctuary to pose for photos with people for more than a half an hour.

Pictures on the Atlanta Journal Constitution and on social media showed dozens of people lining up outside the church in the rural town of Plains, where Carter lives with his wife. One held a fan with Carter's photograph on it.

The first person lined up at midnight, local television reported.

Due to the security detail for the former president, everyone was searched going into the church.

Carter began radiation treatment for his cancer on Thursday, a week after announcing he had undergone surgery to remove a tumor from his liver.

Carter served as president from 1977 to 1981 and became active in humanitarian causes and monitoring elections after leaving office. He won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2002.

Jimmy Carter to Begin Radiation to Treat Cancer

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