PITTSBURG — Local pastors reacted to the death of longtime evangelist, the Rev. Billy Graham who died at the age of 99 on Wednesday.

Trinity Baptist Church Pastor Jordan Hodges said Graham’s message of God’s love for people will be remembered.

“I can’t think of any individual or pastor that shaped Evangelical Christianity as Billy Graham did,” he said.

A story of how Graham welcomed integration of races in the church sticks with Hodges.

“Many towns would split them between white and black with a rope down the center,” Hodges said. “And he would personally walk into the room and move the rope because he knew the gospel of Jesus Christ did not say anything about separation.”

Members of the Independent Bible Baptist Church in Pittsburg looked forward to watching Graham’s crusades on television on Saturdays, Pastor Jim Frier said. Graham’s effect has been decades long and continues for them.

“They would turn on and watch his crusades,” Frier said.

Graham reached multitudes around the globe through public appearances and his pioneering use of prime-time telecasts, network radio, daily newspaper columns, evangelistic films and satellite TV hookups.

By his final crusade in 2005 in New York City, he had preached in person to more than 210 million people worldwide. No evangelist is expected to have his level of influence again.

— Stephanie Potter is a staff writer at the Morning Sun. She can be emailed at spotter@morningsun.net or follow her on Twitter @PittStephP and Instagram @stephanie_morningsun.