Andrew Dys

Church's crusade takes aim at racism

Bob Lindsay pastors a small church. Tiny -- 18 members tiny.

But Lindsay is a big man with bigger ideas. His voice isn't speech but thunderclaps. His biggest idea yet is to put his arms around the specter of race that has so haunted this city and state and country.

Starting Tuesday night, and every night through the end of April, 15 preachers will descend on his Rock Hill Evangelistic Center on Sylvia Circle. Not for a revival, not for a rekindling of spirits. It is such a big idea that Lindsay calls it a "crusade." A holy war. A war on racism. A war on poverty. A war on Christians who glitter with gold and turn their heads from the broke and broken, the dirty and poor. The theme is "Reaching the Lost at Any Cost."

"This is like Alexander the Great, Genghis Khan, the Romans," boomed Lindsay. "This is about conquering this area for God."

Lindsay knows conquering. He left Rock Hill more than 30 years ago for New York and a successful mortuary business. But he was knocked out of his chair, literally he claims -- and that is no small feat to knock this burly fellow from his seat -- by a calling to preach. He came home a dozen years ago and has conquered ever since.

He holds his services in a building that was a white Baptist church for many years. Sylvia Circle Baptist Church opened its building and arms up to Lindsay.

That was his first conquering.

Then in 2005, he came up with this idea for the crusade. The past three years, he's had small crowds before a rainbow of preachers.

Last year, a preacher with one of the largest flocks in York County spoke to a crowd of maybe a dozen. Bob Lindsay had called and asked this guy to preach two nights. Of course that preacher said yes.

"God doesn't see color, and he treats us all the same," said Mike Lowery, senior pastor at West End Baptist Church. "The ground is level at the foot of the cross."

I asked Lowery, as powerful a religious man as there is in York County, if Jesus Christ cared about wealth. Or color.

"No, he didn't," Lowery said. "Jesus is the same for all of us."

Lowery will be back this year for two nights of preaching. He's in the clean-up spot in the religious batting order. The last two nights, April 29 and 30.

In April's 30 days, seven black preachers and seven white preachers will each have two nights. Men and women from a slew of denominations -- Baptist, Church of God, Assembly of God and Kingdom of God. White Presbyterians and black Baptists and more.

"That gave us 28 nights, but April has 30 days," Lindsay said.

Lindsay did what he has done in past years. He found an American Indian.

Lindsay was close for years with the late Ken Fugate from Red Path Baptist Church, a small York County congregation filled with mainly members of the Catawba Indian Nation. Fugate, a proud Indian and prouder Christian, preached at an early crusade.

This year, Lindsay has a preacher named Chief Steve Silverheels. Son of Jay Silverheels -- the guy who played Tonto on "The Lone Ranger" TV show all those years ago.

"When I say it is time to knock down the walls, to say we must get past denomination and doctrine, I mean all the color walls," Lindsay said. "This city has been divided too long."

Big Bob Lindsay won't wear the chain mail of crusaders for the next month. But maybe he and 15 preachers will knock down a few ramparts that need to get smashed anyway.