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The White House Historical Association released a new episode of The White House 1600 Sessions podcast today featuring a conversation about President Jimmy Carter, the longest-lived president, and his life of faith and service. Stewart McLaurin, president of the Association, met with journalist and author, Jonathan Alter and Reverend Julie Pennington-Russell at the First Baptist Church of the City of Washington, D.C., the church home of the Carters while they lived in the White House. Alter spent many years immersing himself in President Carter’s story for his most recent book, “His Very Best: Jimmy Carter, A Life.” In this episode, McLaurin, Alter and Pastor Julie Pennington-Russell talk about President Carter’s time in the White House, his experience at First Baptist, and his decades-long post-presidency.

“Not only was he a man of faith, but President Carter was also a man of family, leadership, and partnership with First Lady Rosalynn Carter,” said McLaurin. “The president revolutionized the role of first lady by giving Mrs. Carter significant policy responsibilities and she was first among equals of all of his advisors.”

From winning seats on his local county boards, to the Georgia State House and the Oval Office, President Carter was in politics for two decades, but there were many other parts of his life that he valued. President Carter is a master woodworker, loved to go fishing, built homes with Habitat for Humanity, and raised awareness about mental health and caregiving.

“Carter was described by a former president of Emory University as the only man who ever used the presidency as a stepping stone,” said Alter. “Just being president doesn't make you an inspiration to people around the world. It's what you do with the power that you've been given to change other people's lives.”

The First Baptist Church was the spiritual home for the Carter family when they lived in Washington. As president-elect, Jimmy Carter attended services here before his Inauguration, and during his time as president he attended more than 70 Sunday services. He even taught over a dozen adult Sunday school classes from the church balcony.

"President Carter really made it a point simply to practice his faith,” said Pastor Julie. “He would listen, and he would teach. The family would sit in their usual pew, and they would worship and sing, and then they would go home. And that really was an anchor for the family.”

Every year since 1981, the White House Historical Association has created an annual Christmas ornament featuring different presidents sequentially. And this year, the Official 2024 White House Christmas Ornament features a unique design inspired by the life and presidency of Jimmy Carter. You can purchase an ornament here:

The full video of this podcast episode is also available on the White House Historical Association’s YouTube channel here.

The White House 1600 Sessions podcast is available on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, and Spotify.

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The White House 1600 Sessions

The White House Historical Association’s President Stewart McLaurin is the host of The White House 1600 Sessions, the Association’s official audio and video podcast devoted to exploring the history, cultural impact, untold stories, and personal accounts of America’s most iconic residence and highest office.

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About the White House Historical Association

First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy envisioned a restored White House that conveyed a sense of history through its decorative and fine arts. She sought to inspire Americans, especially children, to explore and engage with American history and its presidents. In 1961, the nonprofit, nonpartisan White House Historical Association was established to support her vision to preserve and share the Executive Mansion’s legacy for generations to come. Supported entirely by private resources, the Association’s mission is to assist in the preservation of the state and public rooms, fund acquisitions for the White House permanent collection, and educate the public on the history of the White House. Since its founding, the Association has given more than $115 million to the White House in fulfillment of its mission.

To learn more about the White House Historical Association, please visit