Bishop Combs, D.D., is a licensed and ordained minister carrying the title Bishop with the Pentecostal Assemblies of the World, Inc., (P.A.W.), the oldest and second largest Pentecostal organization in the world. He is the founder and Pastor of the Greater Bible Way Temple Church of the Apostolic Faith; the founder and Executive Director of Christ Centered Homes, Inc.; and the President and Chairman of IRCO Housing Development, Inc., all in Jackson, Mich. He and his wife, Kimberly, have two children.
Bishop Comb’s degrees in theology, his role as a pastor and his experience as an executive trained in finance present a rare combination of qualifications that enable him to lead with insight, compassion and business savvy. An exceptional Bible teacher, community leader and entrepreneur, Bishop Combs has received many awards and accolades.
Bishop Combs was born in Ypsilanti, Mich., at Beyer Memorial Hospital., to the late Ira Combs Sr. and Hazel Combs in 1958. He was the fifth of 10 children, raised in the City of Westland, Mich. There, he attended Inkster Public schools until matriculating to East Lansing High School in 1974-75. He graduated from East Lansing High School in 1976 as a college prep graduate and matriculated to Michigan State University where he majored in business marketing and minored in religion from 1976-1979. During his tenure as a student at MSU, he was exposed to the mega church ministry of Bishop David L. Ellis at Greater Grace Temple, Detroit, Mich. On May 14, 1978, he accepted the new birth experience at Greater Grace Temple of being born again of water and spirit (St. John 3:5). It was this experience that led to his call to the ministry.
While continuing his academic pursuits at MSU, he was involved in many extra-curricular activities:
- He was recruited and became a member of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Sigma Chapter
- He was afterward recruited by the National Pan-Hellenic Council (NPHC) of MSU to serve as the President its MSU campus chapter (by Andre DuPerry, Director of Procurements under Dave Bing).
- As President of the National Pan-Hellenic Council, he led and secured the effort for major governing body status for NPHC through campus legislative efforts of a university-wide
- He served as President of the NPHC on MSU President Clifton Wharton’s committee to raise $17 million for the Clifton and Dolores Wharton Center for Performing Arts.
Bishop Combs acknowledged the call of God on his life in May of 1978. He transferred all of his academic studies to Aenon Bible College and Indiana Bible College, Indianapolis, Ind., to prepare for the pastorate in Jackson, Mich.
During this time, the Northern District Council leadership, comprised of Bishop Ross P. Paddock (Diocesan of 5th Episcopal Diocese), Elder William Warren, District Elder Harry L. Herman, and District Elder David L. Ellis, agreed to supervise the pioneering of the Greater Bible Way Temple Church of Jackson, Mich., under their careful oversight. In Nov. 25, 1980, Elder Combs established and incorporated the Greater Bible Way Temple of the Apostolic Faith at 327 W. Monroe Street, Jackson, Mich. Earlier that year, he married Kimberly Marshall of Detroit. To this union was born their daughter, Sarah Michelle, and son, Ira III. Sarah Michelle recently graduated from Eastern Michigan University with a Bachelor’s degree in Human Resources. Ira III recently graduated from Ave Maria Law School with a Juris Doctorate in Law.
Bishop Combs held career positions in Lansing at American Bank and Trust/PNC Bank from 1978-1980, Xerox Corporation from 1980-1986, and Primerica Insurance Company 1985-1986, serving as District Manager in his Michigan region.
Ministerial & Educational Milestones
The next several years represented a season of growth and development for the pastoral ministry and the ongoing formal education of Bishop Combs.
- In 1989, he founded Christ Centered Homes Inc. (CCH), a non-profit organization that provides community staffing and housing as well as personal care services for the developmentally disabled. His decision to launch and manage CCH stems from his conviction that people of faith should care for the less fortunate. In his role as Executive Director, he uses his expertise in ministry, building projects, community outreach and housing acquisition to manage the administration, develop the strategic plans, and oversee the nonprofit’s values and missions.
- He has added to his credentials in this area of professionalism:
Life Member of the American Psychotherapy Association (APA) as of March 2008
Member of the American College of Forensic Examiners Institute (ACFEI), March 2008
Academy Certified Master Chaplain-Level III, APA, March 2008
Certified in Homeland Security – Level I, ACFEI, May 2008
Certified Master Chaplain, CMC; American Board for Certification in Homeland Security
(ABCHS), August 2010
Awarded Life Diplomate status with the APA, December 2014
Appointed to the Board of Directors, ABCHS, December 2015
He also led his church through various phases of growth and development, from its original 400-square-foot building seating 30 to its current 42,000-square-foot building seating 1,200 at 322 Madison St., Jackson.
From 1998-2001, Bishop Combs served as Vice Chairman of the Pentecostal Assemblies of the World, Inc. (P.A.W.), Northern District Council, overseeing 120 churches throughout Michigan and Canada. In 2010, he was elevated to the office of Bishop and assigned as a member of the P.A.W. Board of Bishops to the 47th Diocese, the country of Kenya, Africa, for the purpose of sustaining and establishing new churches throughout the country. He was successful in raising $100,000 in funds for foreign mission projects in Kenya from 2010-2014. In March 2014, he was appointed by the Pentecostal Assemblies of the World, Inc., Board of Bishops to the office of Diocesan Bishop, 5th Episcopal District (Michigan/Canada).
Continuing Education and Preparation for Future Growth
Bishop Combs has pursued theological studies at several Christian institutions:
- Bachelor of Theology from Indiana Bible College, Indianapolis, Ind., in 1991
- Masters of Arts in Pastoral Ministry from Aenon Bible College, Indianapolis, Ind., in 2013-14 for his published work, “17 Titles of a Pastor.”
- Honorary Doctorate in 1999 from Aenon Bible College for his published work, “The Era of Apostolic Excellence – A Chronology of the Teachings of Bishop R.P. Paddock.”
- Honorary Doctorate of Divinity in 2003 from Aenon Bible College.
- Honorary Doctorate of Theology/Divinity from St. Thomas Christian College, Jacksonville, Fla., in 2006 for the successful expansion of the ministry in Jackson, Mich.
- Honorary Doctorate from Grace Bible College, Louisville, Ky., in 2006 for the successful completion of the new Greater Bible Way Temple Cathedral in Jackson, Mich.
Bishop Combs also studied Finance at Oxford University, Oxford, England as a member of the prestigious Oxford Club in 1995, of which he was a member for approximately 20 years.
Health, Housing and Protection of Vulnerable Adults
Bishop Combs has demonstrated leadership in health, housing, and protection of the vulnerable in many positions, including professional boards and committees. In the area of healthcare, he historically served on the Jackson-Hillsdale Community Mental Health’s Committee to Develop Fee for Service Contracts under the leadership of Dr. Christina Thompson.
He is the founder and Executive Director of Christ Centered Homes, Inc., and contracts with several mental health organizations to provide residential care and community support for persons with developmental disabilities, autism, and mental illness. He is currently chairman of the AFC Licensing Advisory Council, appointed by Gov. Rick Snyder, for an unprecedented third term. In connection with his work in human services, he has pursued the academic certification of Diplomate with the American Psychotherapy Association as well as the Academy of Certified Master Chaplains. Both organizations set policy for healthcare institutions throughout the country and the world.
From 2000-2008, former President George W. Bush appointed Bishop Combs to serve as the Director of Faith-Based Initiatives for the State of Michigan, in which capacity he hosted annual local faith-based conferences. Keynote speakers included: former First Lady Laura Bush; former Ambassador to the United Nations, Dr. Alan Keys; former U.S. Attorney Eastern District, Juris Doctorate Jeffrey Collins; billionaire extraordinaire Dick DeVos, Jr., Amway Corporation; motivational speaker Les Brown; former Michigan State Senator Philip E. Hoffman; former Michigan State Representative Mike Murphy; former Michigan State Representative Mickey Mortimer; former Michigan Congressman Nick Smith; former Congressman Joe Schwartz; former President of Spring Arbor University Gayle Beebe, Ph.D.; former vice President of Hope Network Jim Tuinstra; former three-term Governor of Michigan John Engler; members of the Michigan Supreme Court; and former Jackson County Circuit Judges Chad Schmucker and Charles Nelson, to mention a few.
In 2004-2008, Bishop Combs was recruited by White House advisor John Dunigan and recommended to Lee Scott, chairman of Walmart, to serve as a spokesperson, with former Ambassador Andrew Young (United Nations) for Working Families for Walmart. Bishop Combs was assigned the responsibility of chief spokesperson in the media to assist Walmart’s effort to expand its corporate footprint into undeserved urban areas throughout the United States. Ambassador Young negotiated contracts with municipalities in seven cities for Walmart to successfully build/develop stores and create job opportunities for these undeserved area.
State and Local Human Service Boards
- Served on the State Child Abuse and Prevention Board, appointed by former Michigan Governor John Engler, 1999-2004
- Served on the Board of Directors for Choices for Children and Great Lakes Educational Program (GLEP) from 1995-2005.
- Served on the local Board of Directors of Presbyterian Villages Springbrook Meadows, a faith-based nonprofit organization providing senior housing throughout the country, 2010-2011
- Served two three-year terms on the Michigan Attorney Discipline Board, 2001-2007
An exceptional Bible teacher, author, community leader and philanthropist, Bishop Combs has received many awards and accolades for his God-driven accomplishments. Bishop Combs continues to fulfill his call and mission to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ. His life is a reflection of the simple commandment of Jesus Christ to “Follow me.” He is inspired by the famous quote of Dr. Martin Luther King that states, in part:
“Everybody can be great, because anybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and verb agree to serve . . . You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.
Ira Combs, Jr.
March 21, 1958
The late Ira Combs Sr. and Hazel Combs
Kimberly Marshall of Detroit, Mich. 1980
- Founder & Pastor of Greater Bible Way Temple Church of the Apostolic Faith; Jackson, Mich.
- Founder & Executive Director of Christ Centered Homes, Inc., a provider of residential services
- President & Chairman of IRCO Housing Development, Inc., Jackson, Mich.
- 2014 – Master of Arts in Pastoral Ministry, Aenon Bible College, Indianapolis, Ind.; published work: “17 Titles of a Pastor”
- 2006 – Honorary Doctorate of Theology and Divinity, St. Thomas Christian College, Jacksonville, Fla., and Grace Bible College, Louisville, Ky.
- 2003 – Honorary Doctorate of Divinity, Aenon Bible College
- 1999 – Honorary Doctorate, Aenon Bible College; published work titled “The Era of Apostolic Excellence – A Chronology of the Teachings of Bishop R.P. Paddock”
- 1995 – Studied finance at Oxford University in Oxford, England
- 1991 – Bachelor of Theology, Indiana Bible College, Indianapolis, Ind.
- 1976-1979 – Studied Business Marketing at Michigan State University, Lansing, Mich.
HONORS & ACTIVITIES
- Served as a representative of the National Working Families for Wal-Mart along with former Ambassador Andrew Young and as a regular commentator on CNBC television for the retailer; made regular appearances in December 2005 and January 2006 on CNBC’s “On the Money” segments with business day anchor, Dylan Ratigan, and Melissa Francis
- Featured on the cover and as lead story in the May 2000 and 2011 issues of Jackson Magazine
- Profiled in the 1997-98 American Directory of “Who’s Who in Executive and Business” and the 1994 International “Who’s Who of Professionals in America”
- Profiled in the 1992-93 Marquis “Who’s Who in Religion;” and the 1990, 1992-93 Marquis “Who’s Who in the Midwest”
- Received the YMCA Manny Fields Community Service Award in 1995; elected in 1982 by the National Jaycees as “Outstanding Young Man of America”
- Received Michigan State University National Pan-Hellenic “Outstanding Chairman” gavel award in 1977-79
- Founder & President of the National Pan-Hellenic Council while at Michigan State University (MSU), Lansing, MI, 1976-79
- Active member of the Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc. Sigma Chapter; the A.S.M.S.U. Policy Committee; the Student Media Appropriation Board; and a member of a $17,000,000 fund raising committee for the Delores Wharton Performing Arts Center, all while at MSU, 1976-79
- Served as a Student Advisory Group representative for the National Pan-Hellenic Council under the Edgar L. Hardin Administration (M.S.U. President), 1976-79
- Licensed and ordained minister in 1981 carrying the title Bishop with the Pentecostal Assemblies of the World, Inc. (P.A.W.) – the oldest and second largest Pentecostal organization in the world
- Elevated to the office of Bishop in August 2010; assigned to the 47th Diocese – country of Kenya; served as a member of the Northern District Council Bishops Advisory Board
- Appointed by the Pentecostal Assemblies of the World, Inc. in March 2014 to the office of Diocesan Bishop, 5th Episcopal District overseeing 120 churches in Michigan/Canada
- Current Member – Board of Directors Aenon Bible College, Indianapolis, Ind.; First Vice President
- Served as Vice Chairman of the P.A.W. Northern District Council, 1998-2001
- Writer for the P.A.W. Christian Outlook Magazine – the official publication of the organization
- Ministerial Counselor for the Jackson County Sheriff’s Department, Jackson, Mich. since 1995-present
- Former Advisory Board member for the Christian Action Network in St. Louis, Mo. (National Advisory Committee), 1990-1993
- Current member of the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Foundation, Grand Rapids, Mich., recruited by Steve Ford
- Former member – Board of Directors for Choices for Children, founded by Betsy and Dick DeVos and Great Lakes Educational Program (GLEP), 1995-2005
- Former Chairman – Community Service Committee of the Jackson Rotary Club/Rotary Foundation
- Served as co-sponsor with Congressman Nick Smith on President Bush’s Faith-Based Initiative in Michigan and hosted annual Michigan Faith-Based Summits, 2000-2008
- Served on the Advisory Board of Starr Commonwealth, Albion, Mich., 2002-2004
- Former member of the Board of Directors of the Jackson Chamber of Commerce
- Served as Chairman of the Jackson, Mich., Chapter NAACP Freedom Fund Banquet Committee, which raised $22,000 in contributions in less than six months (under State Chair, Carl Breeding)
- Served as Jackson City Police Reserve officer in 1996 and now serves as the Jackson City Police and County Sheriff Chaplain
PROFESSIONAL ASSOCIATIONS & LEADERSHIP
- Appointed Treasurer – American Federal Credit Union Board of Directors ($120+ million Credit Union/tri-county area), August 2016
- Appointed to the Spring Arbor University Board of Trustees, Jackson, Mich., May 2016
- Reappointed to second term and Chairman (December 31, 2014-December 30, 2017) – Michigan Department of Human Services Adult Foster Care Licensing Advisory Council
- Appointed to the Board of Directors of the American Board for Certification in Homeland Security (ABCHS), December 2015
- Awarded Life Diplomate status with the American Board for Certification in Homeland Security, December 2014
- Life Member of the American Psychotherapy Association and awarded the Academy of Certified Master Chaplain, ACMC-III, designation by the APA, March 2008
- Awarded the Academy of Certified Master Chaplain, ACMC-III, designation by the American Psychotherapy Association, March 2008
- Served on the Presbyterian Villages Springbrook Meadows Board of Directors, 2010-2011
- Served two terms as a member of the State Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention Board by former Michigan Governor John Engler, 1999-2004
- Appointed by the Michigan Supreme Court and served two three-year terms on the Michigan Attorney Discipline Board that included such distinguished members as the Honorable Richard Suhrheinrich, Honorable Wallace D. Riley and the Honorable William J. Danhof, 2001-2007
- Appointed by former Jackson Mayor Betty Granger to serve as Human Relations Commissioner on the Jackson City Human Relations Commission (Ex-Officio), 1995
- First local chairman appointee of the Michigan Leadership Conference (Detroit) by State President and Founder, Joseph E. Madison, 1990
- Formerly served on the Jackson-Hillsdale Community Mental Health’s Committee to Develop Fee for Service Contracts, as Chairman of the Jackson-Hillsdale Community Mental Health Problem Solving and Solution Committee
POLITICAL ASSOCIATIONS & LEADERSHIP
- A ranking member of Governor Rick Snyder’s re-elections teams for Southeastern Michigan and 7th District
- Served as Vice-Chair of Outreach for the Michigan Republican Party, State Delegate for the Michigan Republican Party and Co-chair of the Jackson Area Committee to Re-Elect George W. Bush, and former Chairman of the Recruitment Committee of the Jackson Republican Party
- Served on the National Exploratory Presidential Committee under the auspices of Michigan Governor John Engler
- Became a Michigan Team Leader for the Presidential Campaign of President George W. Bush
- Appointed by the Honorable Congressman J.C. Watts to serve as a Steering Committee member of President George W. Bush’s “Faith Based Initiative
- Nominated by the Honorable Congressman Nick Smith to be the Michigan Representative for President George W. Bush’s Faith-Based Initiative
- Member of Governor John Engler’s Clergy Commission and Senator Philip Hoffman’s Cabinet Club, Congressman Nick Smith’s Cabinet Club and the Executive Committee of the Jackson Republican Party
- Received the Republican National Committee (RNC) “Entrepreneur of the Year” award in 2000 and was appointed to the RNC as representative of African-American issues in 2004