On this particular Sunday, it is very hot in Rising Sun Baptist Church, and as the noon hour nears small handheld fans bearing the visage of Martin Luther King, Jr. are passed around. Apparently, the heat was turned on this morning and the unseasonable warmth outside is not helping.
For a fourth-term incumbent like Lindsay Dorrier, this must be old hat but it still can’t be easy. Dorrier sits right in front of me, his wife, Jane, beside him, and as he fans himself I watch a bead of sweat start where his white hair ends, slowly making its way down to his blue oxford collar.
Then he stands, answering a call to come up and talk. As this is a homecoming service—when former churchgoers return to the fold—Dorrier is one of three candidates for local office in attendance.
"Thank you for having me," he says in his deliberate way of speaking. Born and raised in Scottsville, the attorney has spent much of his life in the mostly rural section of Albemarle County. "Good to see you, good to be with you."
As he proceeds, Dorrier cites some of his achievements, highlighting the paving of Sand Road, and then turns to the next election. "An elected official has a duty and an obligation to do what the people ask him to do," he continues. "And that’s what I promise to you. I’ll listen closely to you and I’ll do what’s right."
After urging the congregants to vote, he returns to the pew, enduring not only the incredible temperature but also a sermon by the Pastor Rev. Beverly Walker that matches the rising Fahrenheit in tone. "If [Christ] was to come right now many of us would be lost," she says, raising her already amplified voice.
When the service finally ends, Dorrier and his wife make their way to a back hall where they stand in line for the fried chicken, country ham and assorted sides piled on their paper plates. Taking a seat at a nearby fold-up table, Jane Ikenberry-Dorrier begins to speak. "People really like Lindsay," she tells me. "He brings people together."
"She’s my campaign manager," the incumbent adds, then takes a bite of his food. A collared green falls to his lap, undetected. As Jane talks it becomes clear just how important she is to the supervisor. At 63 years of age, Dorrier carries a subdued, grandfatherly air. Where he is quiet and slow to speak, his wife is purposeful and verbose. "When Lindsay says something he means it," she says.
Dorrier’s gentle nature surely explains some of his enduring appeal. As he continues to eat (and Jane talks), a lady approaches. "How are you doing? I thought that was you," she says. "I was across the room and I thought, is that Lindsay Dorrier? I have to go over and say, ‘Hi.’"
After the Dorriers finish eating, they break to disperse through the crowded hall, and after talking to a few people, Lindsay makes his way outside to the front of the church where he stands alone. Back inside, his wife is still conversing. She eventually makes her way out to find the candidate in back with an old parishioner. "I was a paratrooper for four years," the man says. "I was in the military for 25 years," Dorrier replies. "Three were active duty."
When the two end their amiable discourse, the Dorriers head for their car when Jane suddenly stops. "Lindsay, can we go back in to hear them sing? I told someone I would come back in and hear her." It is 3:15 and a choir can be overheard in the sanctuary. "We don’t have time," the incumbent says. "Please, I told her I would listen," his wife beseeches. Dorrier stands motionless, his shoulders slumped. "O.K.," he replies, and the two turn and head back into the church, as warm as its name.
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