Ives was born in Farmington, Maine. The son of a Methodistpastor, he lived in seven different Maine communities while growing up. He is married to Jane Petherbridge Ives. They have three grown children (Bonnie Marden, Stephen and Jonathan), and five grandchildren. Ives enjoys running, gardening, swimming, sailing, skiing, carpentry, and mountain climbing.
Ives was elected a delegate from his Annual Conference to United Methodist Church Jurisdictional and General Conferences (1972-92). He also served on the Board of Directors of the U.M. General Board of Discipleship (1984-88), and for ten years was a member of the World Methodist Council. With his wife he has also been involved in marriage enrichment leadership since 1976.
Ives was elected to the episcopacy in 1992 by the Northeastern Jurisdictional Conference of the United Methodist Church. He was assigned to the West Virginia Episcopal Area (the West Virginia Annual Conference). As a bishop, he also served as vice-president of the U.M. General Commission on Religion and Race (1992-96). He also maintained a special interest in WorldMissions, which led him twice to Haiti with United Methodist Volunteers in Mission, as well as to Russia and Africa.