It’s a time of transition for the Pentecostal Assemblies of the World (PAW) as Bishop Charles H. Ellis III, senior pastor of the 6,000- member Greater Grace Temple of Detroit, takes over the reigns of the world’s oldest Apostolic organization. At the PAW’s International Convention in Minneapolis this year, Bishop Ellis was honored as he was elected without oppositon to the office of presiding bishop.
“I’m truly humbled and honored to follow in the footsteps of some legendary clergymen who brought this organization from humble beginnings to where it is today,” Bishop Ellis said. “With God’s help, I’ll work to continue in that tradition of excellence as we reach for higher heights in kingdom work.”
To call it a milestone in his life would be an understatement. Only 14 years ago, he found himself suddenly in the office of pastor struggling to push past the grief over the loss of his father, Bishop David Ellis, a respected clergyman and community leader. Yet, he did overcome the hurt and loss to lead the congregation of Greater Grace Temple to new heights. In the process, it has become one of the most respected churches in the country with over 250 ministries. In addition, in 2002 the congregation opened the City of David, a 20-acre complex in northwest Detroit that houses the church, Ellis Manor Apartments for Seniors, the New Rogell Golf Course and more.
Bishop Ellis was previously elected to two terms as assistant presiding bishop and was the second youngest man ever to hold that office. In addition to taking over leadership of the 1.3 million member PAW, he is bishop over the diocese of Ghana, West Africa. The PAW was founded 104 years ago, born out of the famous Azusa Street Revival. It now has over 2000 churches in the United States, and more than 2200 worldwide. Bishop Ellis says bringing greater “unity” and healing old hurts are two of his main focuses.
Under his visionary leadership in Detroit, Greater Grace Temple has always been a church that reaches beyond its walls. “Creative” is the best way to describe the ministry.
It has become widely known for its “illustrated” sermons, which “dramatize” the gospel, and draw souls by the hundreds. At presentations of “The Whip, Hammer & Cross” and “To Hell and Back,” as many as 500 or more are often drawn to the altar seeking salvation. Other efforts include “Football Camp” and “Willie Green’s Basketball Camp” where youth learn about football, basketball and “life” from top professional players. The popular “Back to School Festival” gives youngsters a head start on school with free school supplies, free haircuts and more.
Last year, the church partnered with Happy’s Pizza to give nearly 4,000 winter coats to children from financially-strapped families in the Detroit area, as well as 500 bikes at Christmas time.
Bishop Ellis is a business administration graduate of Wayne State University with a major in accounting. He also holds an honorary doctorate from Aenon Bible College. He is married to Crisette Michelle, and is the proud father of three children, Kiera, Charles IV, and Kirsten who made her transition in 1994.
Photo Credit: Julius “Juice” Freman