Continued from Part 1
Ida’s Preaching Style
Prayer was paramount in Ida B. Robinson's meetings, and every meeting would begin with everyone present joining her in prayer for about an hour and a half. This time of prayer would be followed by testimonies and the offering. Next came a musical group, and then Ida. Ida would often step up to the pulpit shouting, and that shouting could continue for up to ten minutes.
When Ida was ready to preach, she would have someone read the Bible verses for her sermon. Some believed that she might have had issues with reading (perhaps something akin to dyslexia). Ida did have a fantastic memory when it came to Scriptures, and she could quote verses from memory at length during her sermons. As soon as the Scriptures were read, Ida would launch into her sermon with every fiber of her being.
One of her early colleagues said she was the “preachingest woman they ever saw” and “she could preach anyone down.” Ida would preach for a while, sing for a while, and then teach for a while. It is said that her sermons were never dull, and provided the congregation with plenty of opportunity to participate. Her sermons could easily last a couple of hours or even longer -- yet still she drew huge crowds. In fact, the crowds that came to hear her preach were often too large to fit into the buildings where she spoke.
Ida could never stay behind the platform, it seemed. She would walk through the congregation during her sermons, putting an arm around attendees and calling them by name -- often referring to her congregation as her children and their children as her grandchildren.
Some people said that her preaching was forceful, others said that it was inspirational, and still others said that it was dynamic. She was once asked how she became such an inspiring speaker and a prominent religious leader, possibly implying that is seemed impossible for a uneducated colored person from Florida could achieve something like that.
Ida’s answer was inspiring. She told him that the Lord had spoken to her one day. It was the Lord who directed her future course, Ida said, and gave her the power of speech and inspiration needed. Ida was always humble, and always gave all the glory to the Lord -- which is no doubt part of the reason the Lord was able to use her so very mightily.
Many people have said that there was always a gasp of awe that went through the crowd when it was announced that Ida would be speaking. Her anointing was so strong that even little kids in the congregation would stop their playing and restlessness to sit still and listen to what she had to say.
Large, Diverse Crowds
Ida’s home church had to move to a new, larger building three times during her short life. The last location held 2,000 and still was not large enough. A separate service was held at the street level auditorium for those who couldn’t get into the main auditorium.
Those attending Ida’s church often went to their home church in the morning and Ida’s church at night – and came from a wide variety of denominations.
Typical Week at Ida’s Home Church
At the home church, services were held almost daily. Here’s what a typical week would look like:
Every Thursday night service was also broadcast on radio, with a time slot of 9:45 pm to 10:30 pm over WNEW. This broadcast covered portions of New York, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey, but could sometimes reach as far as Virginia or North Carolina.
TO BE CONTINUED!
Sara McCaslin is an engineer, a computer scientist, and a freelance writer.