Southeastern elects David Graves as bishop

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The Rev. David Graves, senior pastor of Church Street United Methodist Church in the Holston Conference, has been elected as a United Methodist bishop by delegates at the Southeastern Jurisdictional Conference.

Graves, 58, was elected July 13 at the jurisdiction’s quadrennial meeting at Lake Junaluska, North Carolina, on the fourth ballot. 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 Jurisdictional Conference, 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.”

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 by the Holston Conference. Prior to coming to Church Street, he served six years as superintendent for the conference’s Kingsport District. 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, Tennessee, 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, Tennessee. 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.”

Spence is the communicator for the Holston Conference.


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