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Elder Robert Franklin Tobin
Elder Robert Franklin Tobin
According to his ancestral records, Robert Franklin Tobin was born in Elizabethtown, KY. His father was as Irishman from County Tipperary, Ireland. Mr. Tobin's first wife was also from ireland. Together, they had seven children. In 1859, the Tobin's immigrated to the United States, and settled down in Marion Township, Putnam County, Indiana. In October, 1869, Mrs. Tobin passed away.
On February 2, 1871 (in Putnam County) Mr. Tobin married a former slave girl. They moved to Elizabethtown, KY. and soon began a family of their own. On April 4, 1894, the first of five children born to this union was Robert Franklin. On February 8, 1899, Robert's father passed away, leaving his mother to raise her children by herself. Robert was only five years old at the time of his father's death. The task of raising five children alone was overwhelming for Robert's mother. At the age of six, Robert's grandmother was granted custody of him, and he was promptly moved to Indianapolis, IN. where his grandmother continued to raise him. On December 20, 1919, Robert's mother passed away at the age of 78. Robert's parents are both buried in Green castle, Indiana.
Robert had a fairly light complexion with a spray of freckles across his face. probably due to his Irish heritage. He grew up on the east-side of Indianapolis where he attended school. He didn't have the opportunity to graduate from high school, as he was called on to go to work at an early age in order to help support his family. As a young man he did janitorial work. Robert's maximum height was a mere 5"2.
As a young boy, Robert fell in love with baseball. He seemed to have a natural talent for the game. Between 1913 and 1918, Robert pitched for the Indianapolis, ABC's of the Negro National League. Later on, after he was called to preach, he incorporated some of his baseball techniques into his preaching mechanics. The elderly saints at Christ Temple, who had the privilege of sitting under his ministry are quoted as saying, "He would rare back on one leg, and wind up as if he were throwing a baseball. Then he would follow through as if he were releasing something. Of course to us it was the Word of God that he was so timely delivering."
As he grew into man-hood, Robert found solace in his love for a young lady from Indianapolis, whose name was, Lenina B. Smith.They were married in 1916. No children were born to this union. Shortly after their wedding, Robert was called on to serve his country in World War 1. He entered into the Army as a Corporal, serving with the 809th Pioneer Infantry, which was an all black unit.
While Robert was serving his time in France, Lenina began attending the Apostolic Faith Assembly located at 11th and Senate Ave. in Indianapolis, IN. where Elder G.T. Haywood was the pastor. In 1917, Lenina was baptized in Jesus' Name, and received the Holy Ghost. After his return home, Robert discovered that his wife had been saved. At the age of 24, Robert accepted the Apostolic message, and was baptized in Jesus' name, and was filled with the Holy Ghost. His experience so illuminated him until it was not long after that he accepted his call into the ministry.
All of Elder Tobin's ministerial development came from the late Bishop G.T. Haywood. In 1925, he became the pastor of the Apostolic Faith Church in Grand Rapids, MI. and held this position for five and one half years. On April 7, 1931, Bishop Haywood passed away. Afterward, (at a prior request by Bishop Haywood) the deacon board of Christ Temple requested that Elder Tobin accept the position of full time pastor, succeeding Bishop Haywood. On November 4, 1931, Elder Tobin left Grand Rapids, and returned to Indianapolis, where he continued to build on the foundation that had been laid by the Bishop.
Elder Tobin served the Pentecostal Assemblies of the World as General Secretary for 12 years. On April 22, 1945, his wife (Lenina) passed away. On March 11, 1946, Elder Tobin married Lillie Harper. Their marriage lasted only thirteen months, when Elder Tobin became very ill. On April 7, 1947, after a short illness, Elder Tobin fell on sleep.
Elder Tobin set the bar very high for those who came after him. He was often emulated, but never duplicated. he had a unique personality, which featured his fixed "gray steel" eyes, and a permanent frown. He was highly respected, and has been sorely missed by his peers.
In 2000, Elder Robert Franklin Tobin was inducted into the Apostolic Ministerial Hall of Fame.