General Assembly honors David W. Graves in retirement

General Assembly honors David W. Graves in retirement

by
Ryan Giffin for Holiness Today
| 13 Jun 2023
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Graves Tribute

On the day he was elected to the Board of General Superintendents, David Graves expressed feelings of both unworthiness to serve and deep love for his church. “I’m very humbled by your vote of confidence in me,” he told the delegates to the 27th General Assembly. “I feel unworthy. I have a great love for God and a great love for the family called the Church of the Nazarene.”

That was 14 years ago. Since then, Graves has trotted the globe serving the Nazarene family he loves.

David W. Graves was elected the 38th general superintendent of the Church of the Nazarene on Wednesday evening, 1 July 2009. He was elected on the 22nd ballot at the 27th General Assembly of the Church of the Nazarene in Orlando, Florida, USA. He retired from the Board of General Superintendents at the 30th General Assembly in Indianapolis, Indiana, USA.

Graves was born a fourth-generation Nazarene. One of his great aunts on his father’s side was affiliated with the work of pioneer holiness minister J. O. McClurkan, the inaugural president of Trevecca Nazarene University. On his mother’s side of the family, one of his great uncles made the trip in a horse and buggy all the way from Kansas to the second General Assembly of the Church of the Nazarene in Pilot Point, Texas, in 1908. This is the General Assembly that Church of the Nazarene points to for its founding. When his great uncle returned from Pilot Point to Kansas, he told his family, “We have found our church.” Generations later, that man’s great nephew was elected to that church’s highest elected office.

Graves has always approached his ministry as a general superintendent with a pastor’s heart. “All my life,” he told the General Assembly of 2009, “the only thing I ever wanted to hear was someone to call me ‘pastor.’ There is no higher honor than to preach the Word of God and for someone to call me ‘pastor.’”

This love for shepherding and leading the local church was heavily influenced by his father, Harold B. Graves Sr., who served for many years as a Nazarene pastor and then as the superintendent of the San Antonio District and the Southwestern Ohio District. David Graves grew up in a parsonage family. He has spent most of his ministerial life leading local churches. He was ordained an elder in the Church of the Nazarene by General Superintendent William Greathouse on the North Carolina District in 1980.

From 1979 to 1981, he served as pastor of First Church of the Nazarene (now Cornerstone Community Church of the Nazarene) in Monroe, North Carolina. From there he was called to Broken Arrow, Oklahoma, where he pastored Broken Arrow First Church of the Nazarene from 1981 to 1986. He then moved to Marion, Ohio, to serve as senior pastor of Marion First Church of the Nazarene from 1986 to 1989.

From Marion, he was called to serve as senior pastor of Grace Church of the Nazarene in Nashville, Tennessee, where he pastored from 1989 to 1993. His next pastoral assignment took him to Springdale Church of the Nazarene in Cincinnati, Ohio, where he served from 1993 to 2001.

In 2001, Graves was elected by the General Board of the Church of the Nazarene to serve as the director of Sunday School Ministries (now Nazarene Discipleship International). In this role, Graves provided leadership for the development of local church discipleship ministries around the world.

He served the church in this capacity until 2006, when he returned to the pastorate to serve as senior pastor of College Church of the Nazarene in Olathe, Kansas. Graves was serving as pastor to this congregation on the campus of MidAmerica Nazarene University when he was elected to the Board of General Superintendents in 2009.

Graves’s ministry as a general superintendent has taken him all over the world. He has served the global family of the Church of the Nazarene for 14 years in this capacity. While he may have felt unworthy at the time of his election, he has been faithful to the call. His great love for God is evident, and his great love for the family called the Church of the Nazarene is as clear today as it was then. To him, to his beloved wife, Sharon, and to their entire family, the Church of the Nazarene extends its deepest gratitude.

--Courtesty of Holiness Today

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