Tuesday, May 18, 2021
Rt. Rev. William Graves, retired CME Bishop, Passes at 83
By Staff and Wire Report
Published November 30, 2019

  Bishop William H. Graves (gmfonline.org photo)

The Right Rev. William H. Graves, the 42nd Bishop of the Christian Methodist Episcopal Church, passed away Nov. 30, in Tennessee, according to a Facebook post by his brother-in-law, Ken Bentley.

Graves was well known to the Southern California community as an outstanding pastors of Phillips Temple CME Church in L.A.   Under his leadership, Phillips Temple completed a total renovation and restoration of its worship facility and Graves earned a reputation as an unusual leader in stewardship motivation of local congregations.

In addition, Graves was an acclaimed representative of Christian Methodism as a youth and he remained committed throughout his long ministry and even beyond his retirement as bishop in 2010. Also, he has been actively involved in the social and political issues of the community.


As a young adult, he was elected president of the National Youth Conference, and represented the denomination in the World Council of Churches in India as well as in the World Methodist Conference.  For two CME General Conferences, he served as the chair of the Committee on Episcopacy of the CME Church.

Graves was a National Board Member of the NAACP and the Tennessee Valley Authority.  He was also the immediate past president of the Board of Directors of the National Congress of Black Churches.

Born June 19, 1936 in Brownsville, Tennessee, Graves was raised in Detroit, Michigan. Upon receiving the BA degree from Lane College, he matriculated at Phillips School of Theology of the Interdenominational Theological Center in Atlanta, GA.  He pursued his Doctor of Ministry degree from the Claremont School of Theology.

After being licensed to preach, Bishop graves served as the assistant pastor of his home church, the St. John’s CME Church of Detroit, under the pastorate of Walter H. Amos, (who later became the 32nd Bishop of the church).   Prior to his election in 1982, he served pastorates in Georgia, Indiana, and Wisconsin.

Graves is married to the former Donna Bentley.  He is the father of three adult children, Jacquelyn Graves Thomas, Ameera, and William II.

His funeral services are pending as of press time.

Categories: Religion
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