Sister Ida, Mother, Evangelist Robinson, Elder Robinson, and Bishop were some of the names that Ida Bell Robinson fondly answered to. From a child she was gifted with a kind of charisma that attracted people of all ages. Her happy face, pleasant smile, and charming personality, contributed to her magnetic leadership qualities. God endowed young Ida with characteristics that would help to make her the vessel of His choice. He empowered her with the ability to grasp and apply spiritual truth in her life. She learned to establish right priorities and to stand firm, with confidence, in the will of God.
Bishop Ida Robinson was born to Robert and Annie Bell on August 3, 1891, in Hazlehurst, Georgia. She spent her childhood in Pensacola, Florida. Since she was her parent’s seventh child, they expected her to be a success and achieve something great. Needless to say, she met their expectations. At age seventeen, while attending a Street service in Pensacola, Ida learned of Holiness and the need to live a life committed to Christ. The street service was conducted by members of the Church of God. The black and white uniforms of the saints left quite an impression on the new young saint who had just been endowed with the sanctifying power of God. Black dresses with starched white cuffs and collars later became the outfits that identified the early members of the Mount Sinai Holy Church of America, Incorporated.
In 1910, Miss Ida Bell married Mr. Oliver Robinson. There were no children born to this union; however, later on during their life together, they adopted a niece, also named Ida Bell. The niece was the daughter of Bishop Robinson’s brother, Charles. Another Ida Bell became Ida Robinson. When the Robinsons heard that they could get work in Philadelphia, they journeyed from Pensacola to Philadelphia in 1917. For Sister Ida it meant leaving behind neighborhood prayer meetings that had resulted from street evangelism. In Philadelphia, Sister Ida Robinson continued her ministry. She joined a small congregation at Seventeenth and South Streets, that congregation was pastored by Elder Benjamin Smith. At times, Sister Ida would fill in for the pastor. Her outstanding preaching and singing caused her popularity to increase among the membership. An uncomfortable situation arose causing Sister Robinson to seek fellowship elsewhere. She affiliated herself with the United Holy Church of America where she was consecrated to the ministry through Ordination. Her ordination was done publicly by Bishop Henry L. Fisher, who along with other officials of the United Holy Church had recognized her ability as a “Gospel Preacher.”
In 1919, Elder Robinson was installed as pastor of Mount Olive, a small mission that was affiliated with the United Holy Church. There, she stressed and preached holiness as a divine requirement; holiness as a work of the Holy Ghost; holiness as a condition to seeing God. While the Congregation grew, the Spirit of God used her mightily. During that time women preachers were almost unheard of, but Elder Robinson had a strong conviction that God had called her to the ministry.
1924 became a significant year in the life of Elder Ida Robinson. On several occasions God had revealed Himself through visions and dreams. He had made her to know that she was to be an instrument in His hand to establish a church that would allow full clergy rights to women. While fasting and praying in the church for ten days, she again received a revelation from God. As she related, “The Holy Ghost spoke and said, “Come out on Mount Sinai.” After receiving this message from God, Elder Robinson was fully convinced that she understood what God meant for her to do.
On May 20, 1924, the State of Pennsylvania granted her a charter for the church. Recalling that God had spoken to her to “Come out on Mount Sinai,” the charter for the new church was granted under the name of the Mount Sinai Holy Church of America, Incorporated.
Mount Sinai began to grow rapidly. Bishop Robinson was a gifted evangelist and leader. Through a great deal of traveling, she was able to evangelize and to visit most of her affiliated churches in other states. The incorporated church grew larger and more widespread. To strengthen the general organization, an Annual Convocation was instituted. This Annual meeting was first held in Philadelphia for eight days in September, 1925.
Working tirelessly for years, Bishop Robinson saw Mount Sinai grow into one of the largest Pentecostal Organizations, started by a woman, in America.
The preceding excerpt can be found on the website of the Mount Sinai Holy Church of America, Inc. You can also learn more about Bishop Ida B. Robinson in “Daughters of Thunder: Black Women Preachers and Their Sermons, 1850-1979” by Dr. Bettye Collier-Thomas.
Please visit the My Faith and Fitness blog again on February 21 and 28 to discover more Black women preachers. Be blessed.