William H. Graves, the 42nd Bishop of the Christian Methodist Episcopal Church, is the eighth child born to Johnnie and Leatha Graves. He was born June 19, 1936 in Brownsville, Tennessee. At an early age he migrated with his family to Detroit where he spent the majority of his childhood and youth. His public school education began in Tennessee and was completed in 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 of his election, he served pastorates in Georgia, Indiana, and Wisconsin. He rose to prominence in the church during an outstanding pastorate of the Phillips Temple CME Church of Los Angeles, CA, where he led that historic congregation to a renovation/restoration project of its worship facility. While there, he earned a reputation as an unusual leader in stewardship motivation of local congregations.
The role of William H. Graves as a representative of Christian Methodism began early in his ministry. He was elected the President of the National Youth Conference, and represented the denomination in the World Council of Churches in India; and in the World Methodist Conference on several occasions London, England; Dublin, Ireland; and Honolulu, Hawaii. For two General Conferences he served as the Chair of the Committee on Episcopacy of the CME Church. Throughout his ministry he has been actively involved in the social and political issues of the community.
From 1982-2010, Bishop Graves presided over the First Episcopal District, with headquarters and residence in Memphis, TN.
At the 2006 General Conference held in Memphis Tennessee, Bishop William H. Graves was elevated to the position of Senior Bishop and CEO of the Christian Methodist Episcopal Church.
At the 2010 General Conference held in Mobile, Alabama, Bishop Graves was honorably retired.
Bishop Graves serves as a National Board Member of the NAACP and the Tennessee Valley Authority. Bishop Graves is the Immediate Past President of the Board of Directors of the National Congress of Black Churches.
Bishop Graves is married to the former Donna Bentley. He is the father of three adult children, Jacquelyn Graves Thomas, Ameera, and William II.