PLAINS, Ga. (AP) - Former First Lady Rosalynn Carter was ordained a deacon last month by Maranatha Baptist Church, the independent Associated Baptist Press reported.
Rosalynn Carter, 79, has been active in the congregation, along with ex-President Jimmy Carter, who draws thousands of visitors to the rural church by teaching Sunday school there.
Maranatha leaders did not respond to a phone message and an e-mail from The Associated Press seeking comment.
The former president is a longtime Baptist deacon - the title Protestants give a layperson who helps the minister serve the community.
The role of women in church leadership has divided many Baptist groups.
The 16.3-million-member Southern Baptist Convention, which is theologically conservative, believes women should not serve as pastors. Many churches aligned with the convention also bar women from serving as deacons.
Congregations aligned with the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, which split with the Southern Baptists after the conservative takeover of the denomination years ago, and the American Baptist Churches, a separate denomination, allow a greater role for women leaders.
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