The oldest living American president, at 94, Carter remains a busy humanitarian and traveler

By Adam Carlson
May 18, 2019 06:00 PM

Former President Jimmy Carter is focusing on his recovery.

He and former First Lady Rosalynn Carter will not be returning on Sunday to Maranatha Baptist Church, the small-town church in Plains, Georgia, where he has been regularly teaching class for years, according to a new statement from the Carter Center.

“President Carter will not be teaching his Sunday school class tomorrow. Though he is progressing well, he underestimated the amount of time he would need to recover from his recent hip replacement,” the statement, released on Saturday, said.

“He and his wife, Rosalynn, appreciate everyone’s support and prayers and apologize for any inconvenience to those who traveled to hear his lesson,” the statement continued.

President Carter’s niece Kim Fuller will teach the Sunday school lesson in their absence. “He said, ‘No one will be disappointed,’ ” according to the statement.

Last week, the former commander-in-chief was hospitalized for surgery to fix a broken hip after he fell Monday at his Plains home, while heading out to go turkey hunting.

Mrs. Carter, 91, remained at his side and was herself briefly hospitalized overnight Wednesday because she felt faint.

However, the Carters were released on Thursday and a spokeswoman said then that the president had no plans to miss teaching Sunday School at Maranatha Baptist Church in Plains, where he has reportedly given more than 800 lessons, sometimes back-to-back.

RELATED: Inside Jimmy Carter’s Surprisingly Active Life at 94 as He Recovers from Hip Surgery

The oldest living American president, at 94, Carter remains a busy humanitarian, traveler, teacher and volunteer. He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2002 for his global push for peace.

“I stayed busy every year and I intend to stay busy as long as I’m physically and mentally able,” he told PEOPLE just after his 90th birthday, in 2014. “I feel a lot younger … I feel maybe 60, 70.”

RELATED VIDEO: All 5 Living Presidents and First Ladies Attend George H. W. Bush’s Service at National Cathedral

“He never stops,” close friend and former White House adviser Gerald Rafshoon once told PEOPLE of Carter.

“He was 52 when he became president. He was 56 when he left the presidency, and I remember after the re-election loss he was planning his next stop and he wasn’t going to be inactive,” Rafshoon said.

In 2015, amid an ultimately successful treatment for cancer, Carter was back at Maranatha on Sunday for a double class, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. As usual, he and Mrs. Carter posed for photos with attendees afterward.

One friend told the paper: “He insisted.”