ALCOA, Tenn. (Sept. 21, 2015) – The Holston Conference delegation to General Conference and Southeastern Jurisdictional Conference announces the endorsement of the Rev. David Graves as a nominee for episcopacy in The United Methodist Church.
The delegation’s endorsement places Graves in the Southeastern Jurisdiction Conference’s election for bishop, to be held July 13-16, 2016, at Lake Junaluska, N.C.
Graves, age 57, currently serves as senior pastor at Church Street United Methodist Church in Knoxville, Tenn. In June 2015, he was elected to lead the Holston Conference delegation to next year's General Conference and SEJ Conference.
“I feel privileged and humbled to be here at Church Street and to also have the confidence of my clergy peers to lead the delegation,” Graves said. “Regardless of what happens during the election, I’m going to be in a good place.”
Graves said that his agenda as episcopal nominee will remain consistent with his agenda as district superintendent and though several pastoral appointments.
“My passion is for sharing Jesus, seeing others that people do not see, joining God in transforming lives, and changing this corner of the world,” he said.
Members of the delegation offered high praise for Graves, his leadership and representation of Holston Conference during the upcoming election.
“I have enjoyed many years of ministry with David Graves in his role as my pastor for 11 years and as a district superintendent,” said Bob Lockaby, member at Ooltewah United Methodist Church, where Graves previously served. “David has been, and continues to be, a highly effective, visionary leader who has very special gifts of discernment, consensus and team-building, organization and communication.”
"David Graves understands the gifts and passions of pastors, the needs of local churches, and the role of the Annual Conference in promoting effective ministry,” said the Rev. Wil Cantrell, associate pastor at Concord United Methodist Church. “He has the ability to see hopeful futures for churches others have long since given up on and to help pastors serve out of their giftedness and calling.”
“David loves the Lord, has a humble spirit, and has vision and passion for helping others to experience the love of Jesus – including those on the margins of society,” said the Rev. Sandra Johnson, Abingdon District superintendent. “I’ve found David to be great team player and encourager. He challenges others to be the best that they can be and is willing to help others grow.”
Del Holley, Holston Conference lay leader and the first lay member elected to the delegation, said, "The United Methodist Church struggles with divisive issues and declining church membership and needs episcopal leaders who are trustworthy, spiritually-centered, and capable of helping persons with differing views see that we are all called to advance the Kingdom of God as the church reaches out to a world greatly in need of the Gospel message. David has been blessed with the spiritual gifts and character traits that enable him to be such a leader."
Graves was appointed to Church Street in July. He previously served as Kingsport District superintendent for 58 churches for six years, including two years (2011-2012) as dean of the Holston Conference Cabinet.
In 2013, Graves received the Denman Evangelism Award from the Holston Annual Conference.
He has also served as senior pastor at Ooltewah UMC, Cleveland District (1998-2009); pastor, Mountain View/ St. Matthew, Kingsport District (1997-1998); pastor, St. Matthew, Kingsport District (1994-1997); and associate at Hixson, Chattanooga District (1989-1994).
Graves is a graduate of the University of Tennessee, Knoxville (B.S., 1984), and Candler School of Theology (M.Div., 1990).
For more information:
"Shades of Grace: New church discovers forgotten community" (The Call, 5/25/15)
"Rethinking church in Kingsport: How a district superintendent is teaching his churches to share" (The Call, 3/24/11)
Find out more about United Methodist bishops (UMC.org.)
Annette Spence is editor of The Call, the Holston Conference newspaper.