Mother Lizzie Robinson went from Geridge to Little Rock, and then back home
to Nebraska at the end of January to spend time with her husband. She left home
in March to Kansas City, MO, then went on to Kansas City, Kansas and to other
small towns within the state. From Kansas, Mother Robinson traveled to
Oklahoma, spending time in Hot Springs and Tulsa. From there she traveled to Memphis;
Then she attended the state convocation in Union City, Tennessee,
and in May she went to St. Louis. After returning to Kansas City, she headed west
to Denver. Traveling to California, she went to Oakland, San Francisco, and
Los Angeles. After traveling to Phoenix, she went to Minneapolis and
St. Paul, Minnesota. She returned to Omaha (her home) for five days, then left again
for Dallas, Oklahoma City, Topeka, Wichita, Kansas City and St. Louis. She continued
Mound City, Illinois, and Henderson, Kentucky. Her journeys also took
her to Milwaukee, Chicago, Detroit and Buffalo. After spending a night in
Philadelphia, she went to Norfolk, Virginia. She returned to Washington, D. C., and
then went on to Trenton, New Jersey. She remained a night in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania
then went west to Pittsburg, Cleceland, Toledo and Detroit. She also stopped in
Ypsilanti, Michigan and Gary, Indiana. After returning to Chicago, she went to
Decatur, Illinois. She also visited St. Louis before returning home again for elevin days.
Then she left for Little Rock to attend her brothers funeral, and stopped at Brinkly,
Arkansas, where she rested before that years Holy Convocation in Memphis (November).
This demanding pace illustrates the commitment and independence of
early church women, as well as their husbands' apparent acceptance of prominent
roles for their wives within the COGIC denomination.
Mother Robinson established the principle that the church mother's role is to under gird
the pastor, establish a strong Women's Department, and teach the
women "things that they should know " including modest dress, prayer, and respect
for the pastor's authority. She helped to enforce a strict code of behavior for women
that as, previously stated, prohibited them from wearing shoes that exposed
or toes. In addition to forbidding dresses that exposed their knees, the code
also banned jewelry and feathers.
Like the fundamentalists of the 1920's, who strove to hold onto the old landmarks
of the Bible against encroaching modernity and technology, Mother Robinson's
leadership was designed for a different era. Most of its membership in the early days
lived in rural areas, relying on farming or shaarecropping to survive. In the 1930's,
however, the demographics of the COGIC church member had changed.
More urban than rural due to the great migration, many COGIC women were members
of storefront churches in areas such as Chicago, Detroit, New York, Philadelphia and
Los Angeles. As a consequence, members came in contact with new beliefs, practices,
and organizations that questioned the sectarian nature of the "saints".
New COGIC members were not only from lower economic levels, but from the middle
class. Members also had the opportunity to further their education beyond grade
or high school level. Tensions from members whose experience had included
a progressive lifestyle was imperceptively forcing the Women's Department
to move towards a redefining of holiness. The redefinition and redefining
would come from within the Women's Department from
two women that were faithful to Mother Robinson:
Lillian Brooks Coffey and
Dr. Arenia Mallory.