Pastor of peace and forgiveness
By Jana E. Pye, Editor, firstname.lastname@example.org
The news that Rev. Dr. Gloria A. Robinson was stepping down as pastor of First Church of God was bittersweet for the congregation she had ministered to for ten years on Lee Street in Darlington, but lessons she shared of strength and healing will remain with them forever.
“She is a special woman,” said church member Susan Abraham. “When she told us her life story, we were all in tears. To think she survived so much and turned her life to God is something we will always carry with us.”
As a small child, Rev. Robinson survived a house fire set by the Ku Klux Klan in March of 1951. The fire destroyed the family home, and killed her brother and two sisters. Severe burns covered most of her tiny body, including her face, torso, arms and hands. She carries the scars on her face and both hands, with several fingers permanently contracted. She has forgiven the crime, and forgiven the nurses that mistreated her during the first year and a half she was hospitalized for her burns. She was later transferred to the Shriner’s Hospital in Greenville, S.C., where she was the only black patient. She shared that she was the only patient that could walk, and spent her days fetching toys and books for the other children on her unit.
“I learned to serve through pain,” said Robinson. “And I learned to forgive. God’s love is good. I don’t hate. There is only love in my heart.”
Her experiences sparked a dream to one-day care for others, and vowed to never allow mistreatment of a patient regardless of the color of their skin, or gender. She went on to nursing school, and began a four-decade career in nursing while raising a family of four children with her husband until she answered the call to join him in ministry. She is now a licensed Christian Counselor as well as a pastor.
Rev. Robinson was honored by the South Carolina Senate with a Resolution on June 2, 2015 at the South Carolina State House by Senator Gerald Malloy.
Excerpts from the text in the Resolution:
To recognize and honor Reverend Gloria Robinson of Aiken for her many years of service as Pastor at First Church of God, Lee Street, in Darlington; for her career in nursing; devoted wife and mother; and foremost for being a forgiving person as she forgave others and gave her heart and soul to God.
Whereas, Reverend Robinson has served as Pastor at First Church of God, Lee Street, in Darlington, for ten years, and she and her husband both serve at each other’s church; and
Whereas, Reverends Leroy and Gloria Robinson have been married for fifty two years. The Robinson’s blessings are exemplified through their fruit. They have four children, five grandchildren and have served in a familial and pastoral capacity, with numerous success stories to many, always teaching love and forgiveness; and
Whereas, the forgiveness that Mrs. Robinson has shown to her siblings’ murderers and initial hospital stay is an extraordinary testimony of God’s love and the power to overcome evil that exists all around the world; and
Whereas, the members of the Senate are pleased to honor this daughter of South Carolina who, in spite of all of the wrongs committed against her, has given so much of her time serving God and to serving those around her. Now, therefore,
Be it resolved by the Senate:
That the members of the Senate, by this resolution, recognize and honor Reverend Gloria Robinson of Aiken for her many years of service to First Church of God, Lee Street, in Darlington.
During her sermon on Sunday, December 20, Rev. Robinson was thanked by church members for her years of service. She requested a chair to “sit in to continue to pray for the congregation;” Dr. Willie Boyd shared, “We got her a very special one.”
Rev. Robinson shared with her congregation that stepping down from the pastorate was more difficult than her resignation from her forty-three year career as a nurse and nurse supervisor. She will continue her ministerial duties alongside her husband, Rev. Leroy Robinson, Sr. at the Evening Light Church of God in Graniteville, S.C. The church stands on the ground of the family home that was burned, and was donated by her grandparents for a church.
Reverends Leroy and Gloria Robinson have been married for fifty two years. They have four children, and five grandchildren.
As the church sang “Angels We Have Heard on High,” the sunlight through the stained glass windows at the First Church of God, Lee Street rested on Rev. Robinson as she sang, preparing for the Christmas celebration and her new journey in sharing God’s word.