Bishop Charles H. Ellis III, the presiding bishop of Pentecostal Assemblies of the World and senior pastor of Detroit’s Greater Grace Temple, took time during the recent P.A.W. “A Call to Unity” conference in Orlando to speak with Politic365 about unity and the importance of embracing a global perspective.
Politic365: Tell us about the Pentecostal Assemblies of the World Conference:
Bishop Ellis: This is our 96th Annual Convention of P.A.W., which is the oldest apostolic organization in the world. Some 6,000 to 7,000 delegates have convened here for religious services and all kinds of resources that we are bringing to our constituents to help them to build the church and to offer some kind of societal help to the members. We have individuals from all over the United States, from Europe, England, France, Haiti, the Dominican Republic, Bahamas and the Caribbean. We have individuals here from Ghana, West Africa and South Africa. They are here from all over the world.
Politic365: There are many challenges to bring people and resources together to meet people’s needs. What can the United States learn from your global ministry on uniting across boarders and cultures?
Bishop Ellis: You can have unity without uniformity; a choir has robes, and the men’s outfits do not look like the women’s outfits, but there is unity. I think that we have to have an appreciation for who we all are in God and for who God has made us. We have a multicultural organization. We have to include those brothers and sisters from India. They come with their own culture, they come with their own dress. And the individuals from Africa, they come with their own culture and their own dress. We should not try to Americanize them, but we should celebrate the God in them and we should celebrate their culture.
P.A.W. is a large organization made up of many smaller facets – young people, seniors, teens, minister’s spouses, women and men – but we have a lot of different groups within our one organization, and sometimes when you have that you can have a lot of fragmentation. We were certainly sounding the clarion call to have unity within this body. It has been very inspiring and encouraging. I am just excited to be at the helm at this particular time in our history.
Politic365: What kind of information is available to help conference attendees address community issues?
Bishop Ellis: We have just ended a pastor’s session. We had about 200 or more pastors and five representatives from the White House. We also had representatives from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Small Business Administration, Health and Human Services and individuals from other areas of the White House presenting and sharing resources on all kinds of programs that are beneficial to our church and to our membership. We are endeavoring to implement and share these services in our communities.
Politic365: In terms of your vision as the bishop, what do you want attendees to take away from the conference?
Bishop Ellis: We have always left spiritually uplifted, encouraged and rewarded. Certainly, I would hope that we would also leave with some tools. Back in the Bible, in the book of Nehemiah, when he left the Palace of Shushan in Babylon to go and rebuild the walls of Jerusalem, he received the call of God to go back and to initiate that work. But he also needed timber, he also needed wood, he also needed skilled labor to actually get the job done. I would certainly hope these individuals would not just leave with faith but leave with other resources that are necessary for them to couple with their faith to get the job done and to bring those visions to pass in their local areas.
The Pentecostal Assemblies of the World has 1.3 million members and describes itself as a continuation of the great revival that began at Jerusalem on the Day of Pentecost, A.D. 33. Greater Grace Temple, in Detroit, has nearly 8,000 members. Services held at Greater Grace Temple are viewed by nearly 50 million on “The Word Network” and other media outlets.
Bishop Ellis is the son of the late Rev. David Lee Ellis; he served as the assistant pastor at Greater Grace Temple until his father’s transition in 1996. For over 15 years Bishop Ellis has served as the senior pastor of Greater Grace Temple and has continued ministries that began under his father’s leadership. He is married to Crisette Michelle and is the father of three children.