Tuscaloosa Pastor of the Week: Pastor Anderson T. Graves
Rev. Anderson Ted Graves II, 42 years old, resident of Prattville, Alabama. He has been husband to Shelia Graves for 20 years. They have 2 children, Kaitlin who is in college, saved, gifted, pretty, smart, and as focused. Anderson III is in high school, saved, gifted, handsome, charming, and easily nonchalant about his many gifts.
Graves is a pastor in the Christian Methodist Episcopal (CME) Church. He pastors Bailey Tabernacle CME Church in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. Prior, hepastored Miles Chapel CME Church in Fairfield, Alabama. Miles Chapel sits on a corner of Miles College, across the street from the D. Newton Gardens projects, and in the center of a historic African-American community. Before Miles Chapel, he pastored Hall Memorial CME Church in Montgomery. And he was interim pastor of John Wesley CME Church in Salem, Alabama, and the local preacher and youth minister and local preacher of Bethlehem CME Church in Prattvile, AL.
Anderson's parents, Buford & Shirley Graves, raised him in Holly Springs CME Church in the tiny town of Bassfield, MS. He was an honor student and active member of the church, even serving as an annual conference officer while a teen. he benefited from many strong mentors and godly influences, especially his grandparents. However, he was a heathen.
As he neared high school graduation, the great cloud of godly witnesses in my families reminded me not to forget the Lord. Grandma Cora told me, “Baby, pray that the Lord won’t let you get so far from Him that He can’t bring you back.”
Graves graduated high school in 1989 and attended Alabama State University on two full academic scholarships (the Presidential Scholarship and the Thurgood Marshall Fund Scholarship). He was a successful student, member of several honor societies, and active in several organizations. He was still a heathen, but at that point he was a heathen who didn’t have to go to church.
In 1991, Graves pledged Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity, wrecked his new car, lost both paternal grandparents, became an obnoxious agnostic, and pretty well wrecked his life. Over the next couple of years he dropped out of college, losing my scholarships, and lost (quite deservedly) his one true love, a girl named Sheila.
Slowly, by the testimony of a couple of homeboys, David Echols & Zelva Frazier, whom he had recruited to follow him to ASU,he came to know Jesus. God also gave him another chance with Sheila. In 1994, they were married.
Graves received his B.S. in English education and a M.S. in educational administration from ASU. They joined Hall Memorial CME Church in Montgomery. Under Pastor Freddie Carger and First Lady Minnie Carger, he re-learned church leadership and served as Sunday School Superintendent and youth leader.
Graves began a successful career teaching jr. high & high school English and drama. In 2006, he became a high school assistant principal. They had kids, bought a house, and they were progressing well toward checking off everything on his list of predetermined career goals.
All of that started to unravel in 2005, when after years of trying to negotiate with God; he gave up and accepted the call to preach. He delivered my first sermon in January 2006 at Bethlehem CME Church in Prattville, Alabama, and became youth minister under pastors Freeman Walker and Lloyd Hicks. In December 2007, he was interim pastor of John Wesley CME when Bishop Lawrence Reddick III appointed him to the pastorate of Hall Memorial CME Church. He was only supposed to finish the year until they found someone to be the “real pastor,” but somehow he guessed the Lord turned him into a real pastor because he served Hall Memorial for 7 years.
Then, just when he had factored the pastoring thing into my plans, God began to press him to leave his secular job to do full time ministry, when He knew full well that it would constitute a 70% cut in pay. When negotiations again failed, he obeyed God. In 2012, he took a year’s leave (The leave in itself was a miracle, because taking leave meant writing a letter asking a public school system to hold my job for a year because “this is what God wants me to do.”—a request to which my principal, asst. superintendent, superintendent, and entire school board all said, “O.K.”) In 2013, he made that leave permanent with his resignation.
And God has faithfully provided.
We’ve kept our house, and we still eat regularly. God has provided for his family and opened new opportunities. Through the National Institute for Human Development, he develops leaders in rural communities, coordinates education in-reach for the city jail, present in small high schools, and finished the manuscript of his 1st book.
He was also blessed to have been the executive director of SAYNO, inc (the Substance Abuse Youth Networking Organization) from 2013 to 2018. SAYNO is a Montgomery, Alabama non-profit that works to prevent drug abuse among youth. The non-profit work has linked perfectly with his community ministry and afforded contacts and opportunities that have made him a better pastor.
Graves made a lot of plans for my life, plans which God has disrupted in ways he could not have imagined, would never have requested, and do not regret. Now, his life-plan is to serve God well, however He decides He wants him to do that.
Anderson T. Graves II, is an unapologetic geek, a country boy, a 2nd degree black belt, a family man, and a passionate servant of Jesus Christ.
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