Dear Jimmy Carter

Mari and Jan with Jimmy and Roslynn around 1988 at Maranatha

Mari and Jan with Jimmy and Roslyn around 1988 at Maranatha. Jstilson photo.

Jimmy, I have the deepest appreciation for your Christian testimony and record of service.  That you were a member of the Southern Baptist Convention bothered me not at all because half my Turner family are Baptists.  What I noticed in you as I sat in your Sunday School Class in Plains, and visited with you and Roslyn during picture-taking was that you loved the Lord, you loved America, and you loved Habitat for Humanity.

I assumed you must have loved your church as well for you entered vigorously into its activities, ministries and events.  And yet, hadn’t you supported the Maranatha church just outside of Plains because of some disagreement at the Plains Baptist church in town?  It seems that the older church would not integrate, something that bothered you because of its injustice. So when others formed a new church, you attended and eventually, joined.

Try as I may I can’t recall seeing people of color or ethnicity in the congregation at Maranatha the two times I visited.  I’m sure there must have been, but I recall it being mostly perhaps entirely white.

In principle I agree with you regarding your position on the status of women in Christian teaching.  I think Christ showed a great deal of respect for women in his ministry, and Paul also. I am reminded of Christ’s dealings with the woman of Samaria, a wanton woman for sure, but he treated her with kindness and offered her living water.

I think also of Paul’s work with Lydia, his commendation of Timothy’s mother and grandmother, and his counsel to women on the best way to survive in the congregation and within society in a world that did not value women’s input.  He did value it.

So once again I agree with you on the subject of integration, yes, and on the subject of women’s equality, yes also.  Mind you, I’m not a flame-throwing women’s libber.  I believe in equality for men too.  No men-bashing for me.  Making fun of inept men such as on that old program Home Improvement is not my cup of tea.  Men and women should share the same stage.

As to Eve, well I wish I could excuse her but I can’t.  She didn’t initiate the problem, but she caved in and since she could not be out of harmony with her husband, she pulled him in. She was to be his helper and she helped him to learn of carnality. They saw that they were naked and covered themselves.  So because milk can’t be put back once it’s out of the bottle, Eve’s mistake can only be corrected by acceptance of Christ.  So here we are back at square one: the reason you have religion and the reason I do.  Trying to correct Eve’s problem.  So, in Christ we should all be free, be equal and be loved.

My question to you Jimmy is this:  Now that you’ve left your religious affiliation with the Southern Baptists, where do you go now?  You’re welcome to come into the Church of God Abrahamic Faith, headquarters McDonough, Ga., just down the interstate from your fabulous Presidential Library.  Many of us over the years have visited the library, and have been faithful volunteers  through Habitat.  Many of us have worshiped with you.  Now, come join us. We believe women have a place in service, in teaching and in worship.

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