Pastor Jeremy Shoulta (left) and Don Brewer, chair of the Nurturing Faith board, gather at the table where the national journal is made available to visitors to Maranatha Baptist Church in Plains, Ga. Photo by John D. Pierce.

PLAINS, Ga. — Visitors by the thousands flock to Maranatha Baptist Church in this small southwest Georgia town to hear President Jimmy Carter teach a Sunday morning Bible lesson. For many, who come from near and far, it is the first time to visit a Baptist church and, for some, to attend Christian worship.

Previously they have left with only impressions, memories and cherished photos with the former U.S. president and his wife Rosalynn, a church deacon. Now they may take a copy of Nurturing Faith Journal & Bible Studies with them as well.

A foundation’s anonymous gift made possible the launch of this collaborative effort between the publishing ministry and the Maranatha congregation. The journals are imprinted with an email address to which visitors can share their experiences of Bible study and worship as well as from reading the journal that promotes thoughtful, compassionate Christian living.

This collaboration grew out of conversations between Maranatha pastor Jeremy Shoulta and Nurturing Faith Journal editor John Pierce. They concluded that providing the journal could help visitors better understand the congregation’s Baptist identity and extend their Christian witness.

The congregation embraced the collaborative effort that began with the September/October issue being made available to guests — many who arrive early on Sunday morning to secure a seat in the church sanctuary.

President Carter is scheduled to teach the 10am Sunday school class almost every week through the remainder of the year. A complete schedule and other information may be found at


John Pierce

About John Pierce

John D. Pierce is editor of Nurturing Faith Journal — the signature publication of Baptists Today, Inc. He is also publisher of Nurturing Faith Books and Resources. Previously he served as managing editor of The Christian Index and as Baptist campus minister at Georgia Tech and Kennesaw State University. A native of Ringgold, Ga., he is a graduate of Berry College (B.A.), Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary (M.Div.), and Columbia Theological Seminary (D.Min.). He speaks frequently in churches, consults with congregations concerning communications and holds interim pastorates.