Historic Reflections - Supervisors
The Second National Supervisor Of COGIC Women's Department
Supervisor Lillian Brooks-Coffey
Born March 29, 1891 - Ceased From Labor 1964
Financial Secretary In National Office
Executive Secretary In The Women's Department
Regional Supervisor Of Wisconsin, Georgia, Alabama,
Ohio, And Southwest Michigan
Assistant National Supervisor Under Supervisor Lizzie Robinson
Bishop Mason held Sunday School and Sunday Services in a tent across
the street from where Coffey lived as a child in Memphis, Tennessee.
When Bishop Mason started his church in Memphis, Lillian and the neighborhood
children were carried to the tent for Sunday School and Sunday services.
One Sunday morning the Lord touched and saved Lillian as 
Bishop Mason taught the children.  She began her church life with Bishop Mason
and remained with the COGIC church until her demise in 1964.  Mason 
continued to influence her life, even as she grew older, and she would read the
bible through once every year (she read the bible through more than 11 times).
As a young saint she was tutored by Bishop Mason and some pioneer saints.  
Born in Memphis in 1896, after being born again under the ministry of
Bishop Mason, Lillian Brooks, in 1903, at the age of seven,
joined the Church of God in Christ along with her grandmother.  According to 
Mother Brooks account, hostile opposition from the rest of her family, who were
active in Baptist churches, forced her to leave home.  
"There were days of great ridicule against holiness", as she recalled, and as a
result, she often lived in the homes of members of the Church of God in Christ
and spent her summers with Bishop Mason and his wife.
She said:   "as I grew he (Bishop Mason) carried me to Lexington, Mississippi
every summer to  help sister Mason with the babies......I was happy to take my
vacation in their home....As I grew older I traveled on the road with brother Mason
and older sisters.  I sang and read the bible as he preached, as we always did in
those days....He was loving and tender with me and seldom scolded me because I
always tried to please him in everything.  When my parents
died, he became my earthly  father."
When Mother Coffey was 16, her mother died.  She moved briefly to Chicago to live with relatives, but returned to Memphis to care for her sick father, who also died shortly
thereafter.  She moved back to Chicago to live
with an aunt and went to work as a hotel maid.  
In her early twenties, she met and married Samuel Coffey, an interior decorator.
The "Coffeys" became the parents of Elise La Vergne, and Samuel, Jr.
Samuel  Jr. died at 18 months, but Mother Coffey gave birth to another daughter.
After she had given birth to their two daughters, they separated, perhaps because her
husband was not a member of the Church of God in Christ, was impatient
with her church activities,  or not as committed to spreading the holiness message.
They never reconciled.  In addition to raising their two daughters, she also raised
a younger brother and sister in her charge.
Lillian Coffey was now a divorcee, and as a young evangelist during a period of time
when she was a resident of Chicago, Illimois, Mother Coffey oranized a
prayer band that became the first Church of God in Christ in Chicago.
Mother Coffey and Mary Davis (13 women in all)
were largely responsible for inviting and encouraging  Bishop W. M. Roberts and 
his family to move to Chicago and start a mission since there was no COGIC
in Illinois at that time (1917).  Mother Coffey had actually rented place,
started a mission, and sent for a preacher.  That is when Elder W. M. Roberts
left Bishop Mason's church in Lexington, Mississippi (St. Paul COGIC) and worked out
the mission.  Mother Coffey then organized an evangelistic team that organized
other churches in Illinois, Indiana, Winconsin and Minnesota.
At age 29, she was appointed as state  supervisor of women for Michigan,
which then had about 400 women in the denomination's churches.
Mother Coffey worked in Bishop Mason's office as secretary for 21 years and
as assistant financial secretary until her appointment as general supervisor in 1945.
Lillian Coffey, "Little Lillian", as she was called, was always a "dreamer".
She was a woman with great vision, and was excellent at raising funds for any cause
within the church arena; Lillian Coffey and Dr. Arenia Mallory's friendship came about
in part because of their shared fundraising endeavors for the school.
Both women had a great deal of power within the church - as President of Saints,
Mallory was leading the educational endeavors and Coffey, since she
was appointed as the assistant Supervisor of women to Mother Lizzie
Robinson in 1935, would be leading the women for Robinson as she advanced in age.
The relationship that developed between Mallory, Mary McLeod Bethune, the AKA Soroity,
and Lillian Coffey, on behalf of the Saints Industrial School, opened doors of extraordinary
access to the civic and social worlds of COGIC women.  Being exposed to
a new realm of civic activity and engagement, Coffey was rubbing shoulders with
groups that were educated, socially and financially well connected to new avenues
which would prove to be fruitful to bringing necessary funds to the Saints Industrial school.
Because of these affiliations, Coffey would be introduced to the (NCNW)
National Council of Negro Women and would be invited to such events
as tea parties with 700 other blacks and Eleanor Roosevelt, and
would become a member of WAND (Women's Army For National Defense);
Mary McLeod Betune was the National President of this organization.
The WANDS was a group organized to help Negro soldiers and WAC'S in 
whatever way possible - providing canteen service, motor corp service and any other
tasks.  Dr. Mallory was also a member of the WANDS; in fact, she was a colonel, traveling throughout the country opening  new chapters of Wands for Mary Bethune, in addition
to serving as President and raising funds for the Saints Industrial school.
Coffey and Mallory were a team, supporting each other for raising funds
for the needs of the National church, the Saints Industrial school, and 
outside of the walls and boundaries of the denomination for the needs of humanity. 
Coffey and Mallory worked so well together as a team and subsequently
received amazing fund raising results for the COGIC organization
and the Saints Industrial Schools due to their shared efforts
Lillian Brooks Coffey's strong support for Dr. Mallory and the Saints
Industrial and Literary School later Saints Jr. College at Lexington, Mississippi).
can be creditied for much of the progress
realized at these educational  institutions.
Below:  Dr. Mallory and Supervisor Lillian Brooks Coffey At The White House 
Mother Lizzie Robinson died in November, 1945 on a Wednesday night during
the National Holy Convocation, and, of course, her funeral was held during the last night 
of the convention.  It was on this night that Lillian Coffey was consecrated as 
Supervisor of women.  Mother Lillian Brooks Coffey was such a great leader and
organizer of women, that she not only continued to improve upon the auxiliaries that
were already in place during Mother Lizzie Robinson's regime,
but she began to create and develop additional
units and auxiliaries for the women of the COGIC. 
Some of the units that were organized during Coffey's administration were:
Hospitality, Executive Hospitality, Missionary Circle, Hulda Club,
Wide-Awake-Band, Ministers-Wives-Circle, Deaconess, Deacon's-Wives-Circle,
Young Women's Christian Council, Prayer Warriors, Stewardess Board,
Blood Trailers (later voluntary missions -  Happy Anticipation), Usher Board,
Educational Committee, Boy's League, Big Brothers, Cradle Roll, Women's Chorus,
Board of Examiners, Public Relations, News Reporters, Burners - which was her
pet project.  During the Convention Banner March, burners marched with lights
symbolizing that lights would brighten the dark world of Africa.
Traveling an estimated 100,000 miles in the early 1960 's, 
Mother Coffey had charge over 89 state supervisors.  The Women's Department
had grown substantially along with the rest of the Church of God in Christ.
The Women's 5 day conventions raised about $35,000 and attracted attention
from national political leaders, and, of course, as previously mentioned, she gave the
women of the denomination additional national influence and visibility, 
by being an active member of the National Council Of Negro Women and an associate
of the renowned educator and political activist, Mary McLeod Bethune
She expanded missions and schools, then operated by the Women's Department,
to Haiti, Jamaica, Nassau, Hawaii, Bahamas, London and Liberia, and
organized the women to distribute food and clothing overseas, and bibles,
tracts, and candy at home.
Coffey was the founder of the "Lillian Brooks Coffey Rest Home"
in Detroit, Michigan.  This was an elegant home she purchased for 
retired and furloughing missionaries.
She raised funds for the building of the Elizabeth White Clinic in Liberia, shared
in the purchase of land with Sis. Elsie Mason for the Mason School in Haiti,
and the purchase of the St. Juste Residents, purchased land for the L. B. Coffey
School in Petit Goave, Haiti, and supported missionaries in a myriad of endeavors.
Mother Coffey was best remembered for her organization of the first
International Women's Convention held in Los Angeles, California in 1951.
The convention was hosted by Mother L. O. Hale and S. M. Crouch.
This convention was brought about through a dream she had of a better way
to support missions.  Her heart was burdened over the suffering conditions of
foreign missionaries in their various fields.
Mother Coffey's addition of 14 new auxiliaries created organizations in which
women of every level of leadership in COGIC could participate.  The expansion helped to pave the way for Mother Coffey's redefinition of the embodiment of Holiness
and the sanctified life.  Unlike her predecessor, Mother Robinson, she helped to
"smooth out the women" with more stylish, yet modest, clothing, hats with
feather adornments, and social events like teas and dinners
to lift the spiritual and social  status of the Church Mothers and women.
The new embodiment, gleaned from her participation outside the denomination,the 
with her participation with Dr. Mallory in the National Council of Negro Women (NCNW),
allowed for an updating of the definition of the "Saint" who could embody
holiness in a stylish, yet demure manner.  This is a confirmation
of what was indicated  as a legacy of the COGIC stylish dress culture
being initiated with the AKA and Dr. Mallory at the Saints Industrial School.
The culmination of this re-embodiment, the creation
of the annual Women's Convention, helped to seal the thrust for the COGIC
church mothers by bringing them together to discuss matters important to them,
such as their homes, schools, and spiritual lives.
Mother Lillian Brooks Coffey presided over 14 International Women's Conventions
from 1951 until she died in 1964, and today the International Women's
Convention is the 2nd largest convention within the COGIC denomination.
Click On Mattie Moss Clark Below To Surf To The Top Or Continue To Scroll Down
To Peruse Why COGIC Women Dress Lavishly And Wear Beautiful Hats And Furs
And Why There Was A Need For A COGIC International Women's Convention 
Reflections Of Holy COGIC Women
Their Smart Dress Code Was Influenced By Their Affiliations With
Social And Political Organizations
Take A Good Look At God's Beautiful Women
Both "Old School" & "New School":
Take a good look at God's beautiful women!
Look at the hats, the gloves, the handbags, the suits, the dresses, and the furs!
Many Saints knock the "Sanctified Dress Code" and/or the
awesome "Smart Dress Culture", which is an attire dress culture or legacy handed
down through the over 100 years of the inception
of the COGIC Denomination - from the 19th century into the 20th
and 21st centuries.
After the demise of Mother Lizzie Robinson, the first area for which Mother 
Lillian Coffey's direction was immediately felt was in dress.
The attire of holiness that Mother Lizzie Robinson espoused, black skirts, white blouses,
and simple clothing without adornment, was not exactly
de rigueur (duh  ree - gur' = French for genteel, decorous, or befitting) in
the circles where Mother Coffey held memberships.  
As a member of the National Council of Negro Women (NCNW) with Dr. Arenia
Mallory and Mary McLeod Bethune, the stylish, up-to-date suits, furs, and
hats with hosiery that members wore were not equated with
holiness under the COGIC definition.  In order to change that, Mother Lillian Coffey
had a novel idea.  She contracted with a women's foundation company
to sell bras, girdles and slips to the Women's Department members to
"smooth" themselves out.  In other words, women who had not worn
foundations and had borne children, had lost most of their shapeliness,
and the new fashions that a very petite Mother Coffey wore, would not look as
fashionable on other larger women.  Mother Coffey also took to straightening
her hair; which was another direct violation to Mother Robinson's rulings
on unprocessed hair.  Simply changing the clothes would not be
enough to change  the definition and modeling of holiness.  She even convinced
Bishop Mason to allow her to wear a slightly opened toe shoe
to address her corn problem.  Structural changes helped to alter the look
and attitudes of holiness in the Women's Department.  By adding innovative
auxiliaries, Mother Coffey could offer more opportunities for women to serve, change
the status and attitudes of the women involved, and take the Women's
Department into relationship with like-minded groups of other women outside
the confines of the COGIC.
Mother Coffey's expansion and restructuring of the Women's Department was
a direct response to the changing demographics of the Women's Department.  
The newer generation of women joining and interacting with the COGIC
were  younger and from predominately urban areas.  Many were still engaged in domestic
work, but many who worked or served in World War II, were 
in factories and some had been WAC's.
Others were educators in local school systems, making their way into the 
ranks of the middle class.  Previous field workers and domestics were now
domestics, small business owners, educators and the like.   The rise in male clergy
and their wives presented another challenge for the Women's Department.
Women who wanted to serve in the Women's Department 
were restricted in the areas they could serve because of their husband's
appointments.  In order to meet their needs, Mother Coffey created additional
units to the Women's Department.
All of the previously mentioned situations brought about an increase
in the "Smart Dress Culture Of The Saints" (hats, gloves, furs, suits, 
adornments, handbags and shoes) which was an attire legacy handed
down because of the affiliations of Dr. Mallory and Mother Lillian Brooks Coffey
with the educated and upper class AKA sorority, Mary McLeod Bethune,
the National Council of Negro Women and other organizations.
Considering the fact that God has prepared heaven for us with pearly gates, streets
of gold, walls of jasper and numerous heavenly features of bling bling, it should be   
obvious that he is not at all concerned or bothered by our modest "Smart Dress Culture"
nor our hat feathers, nor our earthly adornments and bling bling!
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To Understand Why There Was A Need To Have An
International COGIC Women's Convention
Above, Mother Lillian Brooks Coffey Is Being Consecrated And 
Receiving The Appointment Of National Supervisor Of
The Women's Department Of The COGIC At The Funeral Of Mother Lizzie Robinson
During The National Holy Convocation.
Dad Mason decided that there was a need to allow the women of
the Church of God in Christ to exercise their talents and gifts to teach, pray,
and spread the gospel for purposes of assisting in the planting of new missions
within the brotherhood.  And it was a known fact that the women also were
 great at fundraising for various causes.  
Mother Lillian Coffey was instrumental in suggesting to Bishop Mason that
the women would be a great asset in promulgating the gospel
if they were allowed to exercise their skills and talents on a much larger scale
within the denomination.  Mother Coffey knew that it was of utmost 
importance to continue Mother Robinson's legacy to teach the women
how to be virtuous, bible literate, chase homemakers, loving helpmeets,
and gracious worshipers of their God, but due to the rise in membership
numbers of women from all walks of life, and from all ranges in age, Mother Coffey
realized, as we have forstated, that there was a definite need to create additional
units to the existing Women's Department.
I would like to briefly revisit those 14 units and their respective functions in order to
showcase their importance in reflecting the need for a National Women's Convention.
The new 14 units were as follows:
Young Women's Christian Council, Volunteer Counselors, Hospitality Group,
Editor's and Publisher's Unit, Minister's Wives Circle, Stewardess Board, 
National Evangelist's Unit, Huldah Club, District Missionaries,
Usher's Unit, Religious Education Club, Bishop's Wives Circle,
Church Mother's Unit, And Secretaries Unit.
Again, these new auxiliaries allowed additional women from all age ranges to participate
in the work of the Women's Department without having to wait until
an advanced age to do so. 
The 14 auxiliaries could be classified under 4 categories:
Administrative, Leadership, Missions (Evangelism), and Service - something
to appeal to every woman, including the massive influx of educated women
to the fold.  The units also followed the traditional rubric of holiness endeavors
that allowed for the leadership of holiness women.  Each unit provided
an opportunity for redefining the embodiment of holiness amongst
the women of the Department.  Unlike the traditional auxiliaries under
Mother Robinson, which were centered primarily on teachings,
doctrines and evangelism, the new auxiliaries allowed the women to be involved
in social events that were centered in the doctrine of holiness.
Auxiliaries that were administrative in nature were the secretary's unit, the editor's
and publisher's units, and the usher's unit.
Each unit was responsible for certain areas of Women's Department duties
that had arisen due to the rise in membership:  materials used, numbers
in members, minutes, who would edit, publish and print denominational
newsletters (The Whole Truth, The Evangelist Speaks, oversight over
teaching materials - prayer and bible band, purity, sunshine, Young Women's
Christian Council....etc,), and the usher board as the front line unit of the church - 
seating everyone in their proper places.
The Service auxiliaries:  The Hulda Club, The Volunteer Counselors, The
Hospitality Group, and the Stewardess Board, each were designed to insure
that the needs of the leadership, missioneries, and those who genuinely needed
assistance are met - both locally and abroad in missions.
(Personal needs such as food, clothing, materials, and finances for State
Supervisers, older mothers, Home & Foreign Missions, emergencies in yhe work...etc.,),
Hospitality - entertaining visitors state, local, national, making arrangements
for group meetings and National Conventions......etc.
The Missions Auxiliary - District Missionaries, National Evangelists, and Light
Burners of Africa were designed to supplement the work which was already being done
by the Home And Foreign Missions Board.  Missions duties involved overseeing
and supervising Church Mother's missionary activities, teaching activities, work
in harmony with Bishops, pastors, and overseers of the state, and the National Evangelist
Board was an ingenious way for Mother Coffey to creat a platform, single out and
feature gifted and talented women preachers and teachers without acknowledging
them as such (the evangelist had to be well trained, recommended by the state
and national supervisors, and had to have run revivals in 7 states of the United States -
very rigorous requirements).  The Light Burners of Africa - was designed so that
missionaries could help the cause in foreign lands without having to go there - help
with raising funds to help to install electrical lighting in Haiti, Jamaica and Africa.
The Young Women's Christian Council had the responsibility of training the younger
women how to be wives, homemakers, helpmeets, prayer warriors and lovers of
their God; and the remaining groups served as feeder groups to the YWCC and to
each other (to acquaint the young women with the many tasks and expectations
of the Women's Department - for future brides, missionaries, evangelists,
saved singles.....etc.).
As you may already realize, Mother Coffey's work of establishing these auxilliaries
to the existing Women's Department structure held a dual purpose:  It served to involve every women at every age range and level of capability throughout the
denominatiion, helped to maintain and balance the power structure of the Women's
Department, and insured that the definition of holiness through living the sanctified
life would continue to be the role and purpose of the women within the department.
Providing a place for all the women of the COGIC to feel a part of the purpose of
the church was integral to insure that the gains within the denomination were not lost.
It also helped to stave off the concerted efforts by the women to move into the
Episcopal ranks of the church which continued to be held by the males.  By
providing both position and visibility, bothe older and younger women would attain 
status within the organization.  The old practices of sanctification were inherent
in the new embodiment of dress.  in a sense, Mother Coffey's expansion made a firmer
foundation for the connections that she hoped to make outside of
the denomination through the Women's Department's activities, as well as
strengthening the structure of the past COGIC beliefs within the present. 
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on the need for a National Women's Convention!
Mother Coffey Explains The Birthing Of The COGIC International Women's Convention
The intense activity of establishing auxilliaries in the early years of Mother Coffey's
leadership as National Supervisor, was partially brought on from internal pressures,
but external pressures caused the changes as well.  Mother Coffey and Dr. Arenia
Mallory as well, both continued their positions of leadership outside the denomination
within the National Council of Negro Women (NCNW) and working with Mary
McLeod Bethune.  Dr. Mallory's visibility and position, however, gained even more
stature.  She was featured in the 1949 issue of the Ebony Magazine as one of the
top ten Negro leaders in the United States.  Also featured was Mallory's
and Coffey's longtime friend Mary McLeod Bethune.  Mallory was described as
a "teaching pioneer" for her work with the Saint's Industrial School.  Now President of
the school, her profile had risen as a regional director of the NCNW.  This was a
bittersweet period for Dr. Mallory because she had lost her mother a month before
the Ebony publication.
Perhaps the toll of losing her mother kept her busy with both COGIC business and her 
outside interests.  She started attending school in Illinois, commuting back and
forth from Mississippi.  Her duties with the NCNW grew, and the overseas trips to
Finland, India and other places on behalf of women's causes linked her with both black and 
white women leaders of the period.  Between her duties and Mother Coffey's, the connections that they had garnered with political and social leadership outside
the COGIC began to place new notoriorty for the Women's Department they
belonged to.  There had to be a medium in which they could bring the women of the
COGIC into the political and social worlds that they belonged to.
THE AUXILLIARIES that had been forged by the NCNW and the leadership of the
Women's Department of the COGIC was not simply a social call.  An exchange
of ideas began to happen, influencing Dr. Mallory's and Mother Coffey's governance
of the Women's Department , and fundamentally changing the course that the
COGIC women would take.  These exchanges allowed connections to be built between
individuals and organizations like the NCNW and the Women's Department.
The connections resulted in an exchange of ideas and also
participation in like minded goals and ideologies.
By making these connections Mother Coffey and Dr. Mallory fundamentally
redefined the embodiment of holiness within the Women's Department.
The establishing of the Women's Department Convention in 1951 is an
example of how these connections helped to changed the theological,
structural and identity orientation of the COGIC Women's Department.
From The Scrapbook Archives Of Bishop Christopher C. Owens
Pioneering Matriarchy Forces Of The Church Of God In Christ:
Continue Scrolling Downward For More Informayion On The Birthing 
Of The International COGIC Women's Convention
The 1951 National Women's Convention Of The COGIC
The activities that Mother Coffey and Dr. Mallory engaged in with the NCNW,
their services with Eleanor Roosevelt's Kitchen Cabinet, and educational concerns
had thrust the sanctified women into a new arena.  Although the religious beliefs
of the women in groups like the NCNW were more of the mainstream Black
denominations, such as the Baptist and AME churches, the goals that the women
shared were compatible and sometimes the same.  Issues concerning education, children,
race relations, women's roles and lives were very much a part of the 
orgazational structure and goals of the various groups that they found themselves
a part of.  Yet the sectarian nature of holiness beliefs and their manifestations
through dress and worship placed barriers between the groups.
A forum needed to exist that would, on the one hand, that would allow COGIC
to be recognized for the work that they had accomplished throughout the year
on behalf of the Women's Department, and on the other, a medium
in which COGIC women could reach outside their denomination, to form
partnerships with other like-minded groups, and obtain such much needed 
recognition for their efforts.  That forum would be the Women's Convention.
Mother Coffey's original idea for the Women's Convention came during the year 1950.
Initially she had a dream about this convention, as it would create greater
funds to support missions, for she had a burden for the hardships many of the
missionaries had to endure.   Each year Mother Coffey and Dr. Mallory 
had attended the NCNW annual convention, and through these meetings, they had
been introduced to society women and politicians.  Mother Coffey desired a
forum in which she could address the issues that COGIC women shared with 
these other groups, in their own space outside of the yearly convocation at the COGIC.
It was in the 1950 convocation during the Women's Leadership Day that the 
that the idea for the Women's Convention was born, at least in the hagiographic sense.
"On Monday Morning, between 9:30 and 10:30, it was begotten by the 
Holy Ghost of Mother Lillian Brooks Coffey.  
It did not go the full nine month period, but came forth 5 months later, 
 a Mighty Baby Convention"
The real story was a combination of reasons.
Mother Coffey desired to have a way for the women to meet together to
support the missions' activities of the denomination, and in order to do that
it needed to be away from the Holy Convocation.  Additionally, all the
outside meetings Mother Coffey and Dr. Mallory had attended, highlighed the fact 
that, although the denomination was strong from within, its image from without needed
some attending to.  Both women g arnered respect among the  groups they
participated with, but the general public regarded them and
their COGIC denomination as nothing more than a backwoods or storefront
church, despite their numbers.  Perhaps the most compelling reason was because
Mother Coffey, based on her lifelong relationship with Bishop Mason, could generally
request what she wished, within reason, and get it from him - considering
the fact that when her parents died, he became her father, and considered her as a
daughter - she also became saved from him teaching her a Sunday
School lesson as a little girl - he took her under his wings and tutored her for most
of her life, as she was also considered as his daughter in the Lord - so,
"Praise The Lord", she could  just about ask for anything within reason!!
In order to approve the convention, Bishop Mason drew up and
signed an agreement, authorizing his support at the November
1950 Holy Convocation.  Dr. Mallory had received an invitation from the COGIC Bishop
Samuel Crouch to hold the convention in Los Angeles, California.
Bishop Crouch, an avid supporter of missions, felt that Los Angeles would be the perfect
setting for the first setting of the Women's Convention.  Soon after, Mother Coffey  
began the organizing work that would be crucial to making the convention a success.
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to scroll down for more of the Women's Convention
Mother Lillian Brooks Coffey And Dr. Arenia C. Mallory
Worked Harmoniously And Tirelessly To Insure That The First OGIC International
Women's Convention Would Be A Success!
Setting up Steering Committees similar to how the NCNW was organized,
Dr. Mallory tapped capable women to carry out specific tasks in
anticipation of the Convention.  In a letter to one of the COGIC Evangelists,
Reatha Herndon, Dr. Mallory outlines her goals for the
Women's Convention.
The letter reads (Referring To Mother Coffey):   "My Dear Sis. Reatha:  ....
Bishop Mason has signed the agreement, and encouraged me to hold a National
Women's Convention.  As you know, Bishop Crouch has invited us to California. 
There is something special I would like you to do.  I would like for you to serve
as chairman for the committee that will serve as part of the steering 
committee....Someday, sometime during the convention
we would like to have an  international hour or day where we would like to get
as many missionaries from the foreign fields as possible.
Herndon, a missionary and evangelist, agreed to work on the committee with
Mother Coffey.   Modeling her preparations after the fashions of the NCNW
conventions, Mother Coffey planned for an elegant and elaborate
welcome for the COGIC women.  Setting up various women to handle details
and recruit women for the trip to Los Angeles, Mother Coffey came
up with the idea to take a train from Chicago to Los Angeles,
picking up women along the way.
State Mothers were urged to encourage the women to take the trip to the
first convention if they could financially, and State Mother's attendance was
mandatory.  Mother Coffey worked continuously until the end of April,
and the latter part of April 1951, a train, dubbed 
"The Lillian Brooks Coffey Special",  left out from the Union Station in Chicago, Illinois
 in May 1951.
The photo below was actually taken by a News Paper and is very
similar to the picture taken by Dr. Christopher C. Owens; it has always been 
 a part of Dr. Owens' scrapbook archives for a number of years!
Above, Front And Center We See Mother Lillian Brooks Coffey With 
Her White Fur Wrap And Gloves; To Her Right Is Bishop S. M. Crouch;
To His Right Is Mother Annie Bailey; To Mother Coffey's Left We See Supervisor Mary Davis;
To Supervisor Davis' Left Is State Supervisor Jenny Lou Hunter;
To Her Left Is Sis.  Anna B. Crockett Ford 
Below Left To Right:  Dr. Christopher C. Owens, State Supervisor Jenny Lou Hunter
Of The Southern Illinois Jurisdiction,
And Bishop R. L. Ford (Of The Great Northern District In Southern Illinois Jurisdiction),
All From Chicago, Illinois In Attendance At The First 
International Women's Convention In 1951
Below, Click On Us To The Top Or Continue Scrolling Downward
By virtue of the fact that the Late Bishop Christopher C. Owens 
was a dining car waiter for the Atchison Topeka & Santa Fe Railroad System,
Mother Lillian Brooks Coffey requested to have him personally serve the saints in
the chartered coaches on the train.  Mother Coffey was very determined
and in control; It was said by Mother Dabbs, who had been licensed by
Bishop C. H. Mason as a missionary, that Mother Coffey was the first black woman
to have full control of a 25 coach train having 5 diesels to pull it.  She
brought women from the four corners of the Nation to Los Angeles, California
for the First International Women's Convention of the
Church of God in Christ.
Pictured Above Front And Center:  We See Left To Right 
BishopChristopher C. Owens And Supervisor Lillian Brooks Coffey
Because God gave Mother Lillian Brooks Coffey
favor with the Santa Fe Railroad Company, they honored her request and
allowed Bishop Christopher C. Owens to serve as host waiter for this massive
women's delegation.
She Selected A Saved And Sanctified Black Man Of The Cloth/Dining Car Waiter
To Serve The Saints!   Below, We See Bishop Posing 
And Holding Onto The Train In The Hot Sun
Below, Dr. Christopher C Owens Is Seen Serving SomenOf The Delegates
To The International Women's Convention In 1951
In The SantanFe Dining Car.
In Particular, He Is Serving Debra Mason-Patterson, The Wife Of 
Bishop J. O. Patterson, Sr. -  She Is Seen Smiling In The Forefront Along With
Other Delegates Being Served
Below, Bishop Owens Received Commendation For Extraordinary Service
Details Of The First National Women's Convention
In 1951
The train that COGIC women boarded from cities on the way to Los Angeles
cost them $100.00.  This cost was to cover their room and board,
sightseeing and the registration fee.  Those who purchased the packages
were called the "Red Card Delegates" , a term still in use 
in COGIC Women's Conventions today.  During the train ride, Mother Coffey
collected money for the missions offering, planning to present it to 
Bishop S. M. Crouch, head of the missions board in Los Angeles.
When they arrived in Union Station in Los Angeles, a large entourage awaited them,
and Mother Coffey stepped off the train with a porter, holding a large
sign behind her which read, "The Lillian Brooks Coffey Special" .
Dressed in a smart suit, hat and fur wrap, she led the women off the train.
Lucille J. Cornelius, an early COGIC Historian, described the scene:
"It was a most exhilarating sight to see the train come in bringing
women from various parts of the world as they landed in L. A.
They had a big welcoming committee to greet them.  It made history as all
the news media and advertisements went into action.  The delegates were led
by Mother Coffey, singing, "We have come this far by Faith leaning on the Lord."
"It seemed to me that women would never stop getting off that train, it was such a 
large number of them."
The event exceeded Mother Coffey's expectations.  Coverage by the white and
black press, the Los Angeles Sentinel, the Associated Negro press,
and the radio secured a high profile for the COGIC women in attendance.
The mayor and his wife greeted the delegates at the train station, starting
a yearly tadition of governmental officials hitching their stars and pictures
alongside the COGIC Women's Conventions.
Below, We See The Govenor and His Wife With Mother Coffey!
Below Click On Bishop Owens To Surf To The Top Or Continue To Scroll Down 
The convention opened on May 24, 1951, a mere 5 months after the approval.
The meetings were held at The Emmanuel Temple Church of God in Christ,
hosted by Bishop Samuel M. Crouch and his wife.  The convention program for
the week consisted of various discussions of interest to the Women's
Department:  Christian Education, and education at large, racial issues,
and Missionary activity.  
Below is the Emmanuel Temple Church of God in Christ
Which Hosted The Meeting
Pastor, Samuel M. Crouch 
Above, Mother Lillian Coffey Has Been Presented Flowers At The First 
COGIC National Women's Convention In 1951
To Our Right We See Mary McLeod Bethune Sitting

The keynote address was given by Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune,
whose picture together with Mother Coffey's was featured prominently
in the society pages of the L. A. Sentinel.
Mother Coffey had the attending missionaries plus the State Mothers
march in with banners unfurled representing the various states and countries
that COGIC's women missionaries taught in, to
accentuate the focus on missionary activity.  And in the midst of  
all the excitement, Mother Coffey presented to Bishop S. M. Crouch $10,000
in cash, in a paper bag as a donation 
from the Women's Department for the 
missions work of the Church of God in Christ.

Below, Center:  Bishop S. M. Crouch,
An Avid Supporter Of Missions, Later (1973)
Received "The Special Achievement Award"
From The Religious Workers Guild, Inc.
For More Than 50 Years Of Distinguished Service
To The National COGIC
By The National President And Founder Of The Religious
Workers Guild, Inc., Bishop C. C. Owens.
Left, Bishop J. H. Dell Of Georgia 
The Women's Department under the reign of Mother Lillian Brooks Coffey
certainly was not the Women's Department of Mother Lizzie Robinson's days.
The severe clothing, the rigorous Bible study, and rejection of the world
had metamorphosed into articulate, fashiionable, educated and
civically oriented women. 
Bishop mason even attended the Women's Convention,
staying apart from the proceedings
but participating in the nightly social events.  
In short, the week long convention was a success.  The redefinition of what
it meant to be a sanctified woman was almost complete with the 
advent of the Women's Convention.
The women who were  involved in the first Women's Convention and
all of those conventions which have followed, have been dressed similarly
to those women pictured in photos above in their beautiful hats, gloves, purses,
suits and fur wraps, only with a larger representation of younger age groups included
among the delegates; As forestated, the number one purpose of the convention
was to have a forum in place for the influx of older as well as younger,
saved and educated women to participate in discussions pertaining to
education, children, racial issues, health and housing for the improvement
of family relationships while simultaneously embodying holiness! 
By creating a separate space for their concerns, independent of, but connected
to the National Convocation, the Women's Department organize like other
women's groups, away from male oversight.
The convention enabled the women to address their own issues and concerns
independently of denomenational constraints and convocation protocol.
Proving their fund-raising abilities with the generous donation to the 
Home and Foreign Missions Board, served to show their
financial independence from the denomination.
Nothing, it seemed, could mar the benefits accorded the Women's Department.
The planning, preparation and relentless traveling, however, took
its toll on Mother Coffey.  Having already suffered a heart attack 11 years past,
her frail health was dealt another blow soon after the convention.  She suffered
a stroke which left her partially immobilized.
In a letter to the state mothers drafted for her, she appealed to the state 
mothers, now called supervisors:
"Attention Supervisors:  I am in much need of rest after a serious illness, and I am turning
the work into the hands of Mother Annie Lee Bailey.  Any of you
who wish help at your state meetings, write to Mother Bailey, immediately.
She is sound in faith and doctrine, and she can help you to
have an effectual program.
Work in peace with the Brethren. You may not be able to do all you desire
to do, but be mother-wise and God fearing and He will bring you through. 
If it is His will, it won't be long before I'm back on the fighting front.
Lillian B. Coffey."
The letter indicates tension between the male and the women episcopates.
The "work in peace with the Brethren", phrase suggests that the men
were having some problems with asserting their supposed "authority" over
the Church Mothers in leadership.  The admonition by Mother Coffey to be
"Mother-wise and God fearing", suggests that Mother Coffey didn't want the 
women to lose the ground that had been gained by the women
through the reorganization and the convention.
In directing Annie Bailey to take the reigns as her second-in-command,
she attempted to recouperate without totally removing herself from the
departmental responsibilities.  Mother Coffey did attend the National
Convocation that year in 1951, but Mother Bailey took over Mother Coffey's place in
the Women's Day annual meeting in the convocation.
As Mother Coffey's health began to improve after her stroke, the Women's
Convention began to move forward in the work of uniting, educating, and
expanding the Women's Department of the Church of God in Christ.
The Conventions took place in various larger cities through out the country
such as New York City, Miami, Boston, Detroit, Chicago, Seattle and Kansas City.
Below, Click On Bishop C. C. Owens To Surf To The Top Or Continue To Scroll Down.
Below, We See Dr. Mallory (Back Left), And Supervisor Lillian Brooks Coffey Far Right),
Taking Their Proper Places Involving Themselves With Pertinent
COGIC Business Matters Along With Cogic's Chief Apostle, 
Bishop C. H. Mason (Far Left Front), And Director Of Public Relations - .
Bishop Louis Henry Ford (Center Front).
The format of the conventions took on a more organized approach
than the first, and in addition to highlighting missionary activity, topics
focused in on leadership conferences preparing
women to better their homes, schools, and communities
through Christian service.  The phrase
"better homes, schools, communities, and world"
became a slogan during the 1950's conventions that continues to form the
thinking and advocacy of COGIC Church Mothers and women's leadership. 
The leadership conferences, focusing on both the mission of the saints
to the world, as well as maintaining  the proper Christian home emphasized
a variety of activities designed to both evangelize and teach COGIC doctrines.
Using titles such as Christian Stewardship, Community Relations, Social
Welfare and Financial Development, the message of the sanctified life, was transmitted
in an updated language that those both within and without the
COGIC could understand.  
In Summary
By reorganizing and expanding the Women's Department work through additional
auxiliaries, Mother Coffey was able to expand the visible and material theological
definitions of holiness to be embodied by all women, not just the Church Mothers.
By updating the dress, responsibilities and public persona of the Women's Department,
Mother Coffey changed the denomination's traditional image of illiteracy
and sectarianism through connections to political action groups, social
activists and race work.  
The advent of the International Women's Convention
as a forum for women's concerns in COGIC and missionary activities
took the message of the sanctified life into the public realm.
Below Mother Lillian Brooks Coffey Is Receiving The Charles Harrison Mason
Award From The Religious Workers Guild, Inc.,
Presented To Her By The National President Of The Guild,
Bishop Christopher C. Owens
It has often been said that the gains COGIC women made, both within
and without the denominatiion through engagement with the new
NCNW and other women's organizations began to dissipate in the post
Coffey and Mallory era (the late 1970's and beyond).
It is said that the shift in focus from civically engaging the world
through sanctified living to internal COGIC squabbles or confusion 
has eroded the power of the women in our church.
We understand that there have been rumblings from recent 
constitutional conventions (proposed constitutional changes in 2004 & 2005)
attempts to limit the Women's Department's power by reorganizing
the department within the Episcopal Structure, with Bishops, rather than
the National Supervisors, nominating candidates to women's leadership
positions.  We certainly hope that for whatever changes will have been made,
in departmental structure, that whatever gains were made by the women in the
past, will not be hindered or undermined; that the women will continue to
be mothers, teachers, and leaders rather than becoming mere, beautifully
dressed foils to the Bishops and pastors of the denomination!
God Forbid!
We pray that absolutely nothing, including restructuring, will dilute or cancel
the women's autonomy.
Although it is true that since the 1970's the COGIC has had more preoccupation
with internal issues and a refocusing with its interior life
(and much less civic engagement than with Mother Coffey and Dr. A. Mallory),
the younger generations of educated women who might be less likely to
adhere to the fine lines between teaching and preaching, and even
less likely to emulate the elaborate dress of the elder traditional women
(sequins, hats, furs, elaborate dress, and fine adornments)
will not flock to leave the COGIC ranks to find welcome in other Pentecostal
and Charismatic churches open to women's "preaching" and "leadership"!!
Above, Mother Lillian Brooks Coffey Center Front With
Bishop C. H. Mason (Her Father In The Lord) Right By Her Side.
This Event Took Place Approximately A Year Before The First
National Women's Convention In 1951
Mother Coffey had stated to Bishop Mason during
a talk some years before his death
"I don't want to be here after you are gone.  If I go first, I will linger in the
corridor of heaven till I hear you coming".  In her grief over Mason's death
in 1961, Coffey said "I have missed the sweet communion (with Mason)
and Oh, this has been a year of years for me!  It was from his mouth
that I got my order of the day.
As I consider his advice - his instructions - his great love - his humility -
his peaceable disposition.....will we ever have another Bishop Mason?"
Mother Coffey became partially blind and paralyzed after a massive stroke in 1951.
She made speeches by sniffing oxygen every 10 minutes and held conferences under an
oxygen tent during her churches conventions.  The tenacity of Coffey
despite her illness, sets the stage for an article in which she reminisces
about her conversion to Holiness - Pentecostalism , family problems relating to
her conversion, and her work in the church.
She discusses such diverse issues as the failure of her marriage, her loyalty
to Bishop Mason, and her goals for the Women's Department. 
She died June 9, 1964.
These are some of her famous quotes:  "methods change, but principles
remain the same", and a table verse which we still use today:
"We make no excuse for the things which we have, for that which we have,
the Lord has provided, and we are thankful."
Below, Click On Mother Lillian Brooks Coffeyto Surf To The Top Of This Page 
Supervisor Lillian Brooks Coffey 1945 ~1964
Though Sickly And In Ill Health During Most Of Her Tenure,
Mother Lillian Coffey Exemplified Tenacity, Shrewedness, And A Strong Will.
She Earned Her Title:  "WARHORSE"