Graves Installed as Alabama-West Florida Episcopal Leader

September 12, 2016
(Montgomery, AL) - Bishop David W. Graves was officially installed as resident bishop Sunday afternoon, September 11, 2016. A capacity crowd filled the beautiful cathedral sanctuary of Montgomery FUMC in Cloverdale Park. 

The processional included the AWF district superintendents, CORE leadership team, visiting bishops from other conferences and college presidents. 

The cathedral choir of Montgomery FUMC, under the direction of Dr. James Seay, performed a pre concert while guests arrived. Dr. Jeremy Pridgeon, senior minister at Montgomery FUMC, welcomed those in attendance. The day was also significant to Pridgeon as it was his first Sunday in the pulpit in his new appointment. 

Dr. Karl K. Stegall, pastor emeritus of Montgomery FUMC, was instrumental in coordinating the service and gave the opening prayer and the official introduction of the bishop. Many special guests were welcomed by Dr. Paulette Thompson, chair of the Episcopacy Committee. Bishop Mike Watson, retired bishop from the North Georgia Conference, Bishop Mary Virginia Taylor, resident bishop of the Holston Conference and Bishop Debra Wallace-Padgett, resident bishop of the North Alabama Conference, all participated in the responsive covenant service and signs for episcopal ministry. President Cam West of Huntingdon College and President Linda Flaherty-Goldsmith of Birmingham-Southern College were in attendance, representing the two United Methodist colleges in the state of Alabama. 

A highlight of the service included the presentation of the eight signs for episcopal ministry. The presenters were chairs of boards or AWF organizations. They personally read a statement and handed each sign to the bishop as keepsakes which represented shepherding, the prophetic Word, baptism, communion, service, teaching, supervision and appointments. 

Other conference leaders gave prayers, read various scripture passages and the benediction. 

After being installed, Bishop David Graves delivered a sermon entitled, "For Such a Time as This." He walked the congregation through the past two months reminding them that just weeks ago, he was a pastor in a local church and said, "We must not forget ministry takes place in the local church." Graves also highlighted several people special to his ministry and asked those in attendance who have been the Pauls and Paulettes in their lives? A significant moment was when he pointed out the cross he was wearing. After Graves was elected at jurisdictional conference, Retired Bishop Clay Foster Lee, held out his hand and gave Graves a cross he had worn and was given after his own episcopal election. The cross has been worn by bishops for over 100 years and Graves is the fourth bishop to wear. He beautifully illustrated that this cross is symbolic to what our Christian faith is about–passing it along to others. Bishop Lee served the Holston Conference prior to his retirement. 

A reception was held in the fellowship hall by members of Montgomery FUMC. As with any conference event this church hosts, the hospitality far exceeded expectations. Another welcome service and reception will be held on Sunday, September 18, 2016, at Crosspoint UMC in Niceville, FL. 

Click here to see photos from the service and reception