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,
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.