Parishioners at Smothers Chapel CME Church were mourning his loss Sunday.
"God will take care of us," said Pastor Jimmy Lee McMorris Jr.
He said his congregation, along with the extended CME family, is doing what they know Bishop Graves would want: standing strong in their faith.
"We need to get to that place where people know who we are. They know what we stand for, they know what we believe and we continue to relay those messages even today," McMorris said.
Those messages include not only standing strong, but breaking down barriers when needed.
Bishop Graves was the first African American to be on the Tennessee Valley Authority board of directors. The Brownsville, Tennessee native was also a former MLGW board member.
But it's what he did in the church, McMorris said, that many will never forget.
"Ministries have had major impacts in the lives of people all over the world," he said.
In a statement from Bishop Henry Williamson of the CME First Episcopal District, he says in part that Bishop Graves "made significant accomplishments and contributions on education, politics, religion and business."
Sen. Lamar Alexander tweeted "William Graves was one of our nation's most consequential religious and civic leaders."
The senator went on to say "We will miss him and offer to his family our great respect for his life of service."
Bishop William Graves leaves behind a lasting legacy, along with a wife and three adult children.
The funeral will be held Monday, Dec. 9 at Greenwood CME Church on Kimball Avenue. Visitation begins at 10 a.m.