David Graves elected bishop in The United Methodist Church

David Graves elected bishop in The United Methodist Church

Bishop Dindy Taylor congratulates David Graves immediately after his election.

July 14 update: Bishop David Graves has been assigned to the Alabama-West Florida Annual Conference. His assignment begins Sept. 1.


LAKE JUNALUSKA, N.C. (July 13, 2016) -- The Rev. David Graves, senior pastor of Church Street United Methodist Church in the Holston Annual (regional) Conference, has been elected as a United Methodist bishop by delegates at the Southeastern Jurisdictional Conference. 

Graves, age 58, was elected Wednesday afternoon, July 13, at the jurisdiction’s quadrennial meeting at Lake Junaluska, N.C. On the fourth ballet, he received 221 votes out of 345 valid ballots cast. He needed 207 to be elected. 

Graves was the second bishop elected at the July 13-15 meeting, following Rev. Sharma Lewis of the North Georgia Conference, elected on the first ballot earlier in the day. 

“I want to thank you, the Southeastern Jurisdiction, for putting your faith in me,” Graves said after his election. “So we go forth to win people to Christ, see the unseen, transform lives, and help the United Methodist Church change the world.” 

See video of Graves' post-election remarks.

Graves was elected by the SEJ’s 376 total delegates, an equal number of United Methodist clergy and laity, from the nine states forming the Southeastern Jurisdiction. The assignments of bishops in the Southeastern Jurisdiction for the next four years will be announced later in the week. His four-year term of service begins Sept. 1. 

Graves was nominated and endorsed by the Holston Conference. Prior to coming to Church Street, he served six years as superintendent for the Kingsport District of the Holston Conference. In 2011 and 2012, he served as dean of the Cabinet. 

Graves has been an ordained pastor in the United Methodist Church for more than 27 years and previously served as senior pastor of Ooltewah United Methodist Church in Chattanooga, Tenn., for 11 years. Earlier in 2016, he led the Holston delegation to General Conference as the first elected clergy delegate. In 2013, the Holston Annual Conference presented him with the Denman Evangelism Award. 

Graves is a native of Knoxville, Tenn. He graduated from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, with a bachelor’s degree in business administration and from Candler School of Theology with a master of divinity degree. 

He has been married to Nancy Graves for 34 years. They have two children and a grandson. 

In his post-election remarks, Graves thanked Bishop Clay Lee for ordaining him, Bishop Ray Chamberlain for believing in him, and Bishop James Swanson for appointing him as a district superintendent. He thanked his current bishop, Bishop Mary Virginia Taylor “who I have known for 40 years and who was my associate pastor when I was growing up at Fountain City United Methodist Church.”

Shortly after Graves’ election, the Southeastern Jurisdiction quickly elected three more bishops, completing its 2016 election of five total episcopal leaders. Elected were the Rev. Leonard Fairley, North Carolina Conference; the Rev. Lawson Bryan, Alabama-West Florida Conference; and the Rev. Sue Haupert-Johnson, Florida Conference. 

A consecration service for the new five new bishops will be held Friday, July 15, 10 a.m. at Stuart Auditorium. The consecration service will be streamed live

A United Methodist bishop is elected for life. Typically, a bishop will serve in a specific annual conference for eight years. The United Methodist Book of Discipline, the denomination’s law book, directs each bishop to “guard the faith, order, liturgy, doctrine, and discipline of the Church” and to “lead all persons entrusted to their oversight in worship, in the celebration of the sacraments, and in their mission of witness and service in the world.” Bishops also are to be “prophetic voices and courageous leaders in the cause of justice for all people.” 

The Southeastern Jurisdiction includes 15 annual conferences and nine states: Alabama, Florida, Tennessee, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Kentucky, and Mississippi.



See also:
Bishop David Graves shares gratitude with Holston (The Call, 7/19/16)

U.S. bishops begin new assignments on Sept. 1 (UMNS, 7/18/16)


Annette Spence

Annette Spence is editor of The Call, the Holston Conference newsletter.

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