Rev. Valda Jean Combs is an ordained Baptist minister and Pastor of Salem United Methodist Church in Tomball, Texas. She is the mother of one daughter and is passionate about a range of social justice causes. In the 1990s she advocated against the stigma surrounding HIV in churches and worked to ensure greater involvement from faith communities in education and services around HIV. While studying at South Texas College of Law, she co-founded a chapter of the National Black Law Student Association and later earned a Master of Theological Studies from Perkins School of Theology at Southern Methodist University.
In 2017, as Texas lawmakers debated a wide range of legislation that would allow for discrimination against LGBTQ Texans, she penned an editorial pushing back. She wrote, “We know all too well how some have used religion to justify discrimination against Jews, African Americans and others in our country’s history. In some small Texas towns, we can still see the telltale ‘colored’ signs on the sides of historical buildings. Those signs remind us of our troubled past, when African Americans were singled out – marginalized and hated – because the law sanctioned ‘separate but equal.’ … Now some in the Legislature would drag us backward by declaring that yet another class of people should be singled out for discrimination. Have we not yet learned that when one group’s liberties are constrained, we all suffer the consequences?”