Originally published by AG-News, Mon, 14 Oct 2013 – 9:09 PM CST
The personal papers of Mother Lizzie Robinson, an important church leader in the early decades of the Church of God in Christ (COGIC), have been deposited at the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center (FPHC). The COGIC, a historic African-American church, is the largest Pentecostal denomination in the United States.
The collection was dedicated in a special service on October 4 in the William Seymour Chapel at the Assemblies of God Theological Seminary. Scholars, church leaders, and students from across the denominational and racial divides filled the chapel to honor the life of Mother Lizzie Robinson and the legacy of women in the COGIC.
Mother Lizzie Robinson (1860-1945) organized the COGIC Women’s Department in 1911 and was the most prominent female COGIC leader until her death. As head of women’s auxiliaries, she founded the Prayer and Bible Band and the Sewing Circle. She also helped to lay the foundation for the creation of the Missions Department (originally known as the Home and Foreign Missions Band).
Elijah Hill, the COGIC minister and historian who deposited Robinson’s personal papers at the FPHC, delivered the keynote address. He noted that Robinson lost her position as matron of Arkansas Baptist College after she was baptized in the Holy Spirit at age 46. COGIC founder Charles H. Mason then asked her to organize women in the COGIC. Hill explained how Robinson encouraged COGIC women to become self-determining, before the broader society recognized women’s suffrage and civil rights for African-Americans.
Hill noted that the original Pentecostal vision, which “transcended racism and sexism,” made it possible for Robinson to emerge as a leader. Importantly, Robinson provided the initial vision for COGIC world missions and the Women’s Department funded COGIC missionaries. Hill noted, “the globalization of COGIC came from Lizzie Robinson.”
Glenda Goodson, a COGIC historian who also spoke at the dedication, provided an overview of the history of women in ministry in the COGIC. In one memorable story, she related how COGIC women desegregated the hotels in Albany, New York, in 1964. Goodson emphasized the powerful role of women in promoting the Holiness and Pentecostal message.
FPHC director Darrin Rodgers, as emcee of the program, praised Hill for building bridges. According to Rodgers, “What we’re witnessing today is more than just archiving old treasures. We are joining hands to work together, to honor not just one woman, but to honor and learn more about our shared Pentecostal testimony.”
Two African-American churches in Springfield participated in the dedication. Anitra Appleby of Sanctuary of Praise COGIC read Scripture, and David Knox and Quinci Williams of Deliverance Temple led worship. AGTS president Byron Klaus gave the prayer of dedication, noting that Robinson was “an example of how the power of Pentecost can break down man-made barriers in a world that desperately needs to hear the gospel.” Assemblies of God U.S. Missions executive director Zollie Smith offered a heart-felt prayer of dismissal, encouraging the present generation to grab the torch passed from Robinson and other Pentecostal pioneers. He prayed for unity in Christ “so that souls might be reached in America.”
The Mother Lizzie Robinson / Rev. Elijah L. Hill Collection includes the papers of Robinson and her daughter Ida F. Baker, as well as other publications collected by Hill. The collection includes approximately 500 original photographs (circa 1899-1960s), approximately 100 publications, and Hill’s research files on Robinson.
A panel discussion featuring Elijah Hill, Glenda Goodson, FPHC director Darrin Rodgers, and Assemblies of God missions historian Barbara Cavaness Parks was also filmed. Panelists dialogued about Robinson and the legacy of women in the COGIC and the Assemblies of God.