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A place for you

Our History

It all began in 1988…

when Craig Strickland, a pastor at Second Presbyterian Church, felt the call to plant a church “out east” in the suburbs of Memphis – little did he know the plans God had for a little place called Hope! Along with 25 other charter members, Craig began Hope in the living room of a Germantown home in September of 1988. Nine months after Hope’s conception, Eli Morris came to Hope bringing a strong passion and big heart for inner-city missions. Still to this day, Hope’s Urban Ministry is thriving in the North Memphis communities with many opportunities of offering a better life for the families we work with. From that Germantown living room, Hope moved to rented space at Shelby Place Restaurant (currently The Butcher Shop), then to Evangelical Christian School’s gymnasium where they spent the next seven years.

In 1992, Hope purchased their first piece of land, 22 acres, at 8500 Walnut Grove Road in Cordova and moved into their first permanent worship space, which is now home to Hope’s Student Ministry. Since that day in January 1996, Hope’s continued growth over the next 10 years made way for multiple building expansions to accommodate our children’s, recreation and kitchen ministries, and a recording studio, just to name a few. Now providing over 30 different ministries, serving thousands of people from Memphis to the Bronx to Belize, Hope Church has expanded beyond the wildest dreams from a meager upstart over 25 years ago.

Craig and Eli’s prayers were met when Rev. Rufus Smith agreed to leave his hometown of Houston, Texas, to join the preaching/teaching team in 2010. Over the next three years, Craig, Eli and Rufus worked through a transition of positions. Hope celebrated 25 years in September 2013, and in November, Rufus was voted in to take the position of Senior Pastor. Craig moved to Founding Pastor role, where he still maintains an active and visible position within our leadership. No one fills the Senior Associate Pastor shoes better than Eli, and this is truly where God has continued to call him to serve.

The next chapter for Hope is in the continued writing of all of our stories. It is still a place that accepts us where we are, as we are and provides a meaningful and significant worship experience that is not left at the door when you head to your car in the parking lot. It is an experience that continues to have application in everyday life with everyday issues, with struggles as well as celebrations. There is something here for everyone, from cradle to grave. Through our four "pillars" of Community, Worship, Service and Generosity - Hope’s mission is to engage our un-churched neighbors of every age and ethnicity to experience Jesus.

We hope you join us for a service, a class, a Bible study, a soccer game, a Wednesday night dinner...until then click here for a taste of Hope.

Hope is a member of the Evangelical Presbyterian Church

The information below is an excerpt from the EPC website. If you would like more specific information, we encourage you to visit www.epc.org.


The EPC is a family of churches, Reformed and Presbyterian, defined by shared core values and bonded by the fellowship of the Holy Spirit. The EPC is a church family centered upon the good news of what God has done for the world through His Son, Jesus Christ.

The EPC is both evangelical and Presbyterian. We are evangelical (not in the political sense but the biblically gracious sense) in our zeal for the Gospel, local/global missions and living obediently as followers of Jesus. At the same time, we are rooted in the Protestant Reformation and—secondary to the Holy Bible—we embrace the Westminster Confession of Faith as our doctrinal standard. The EPC is linked together regionally but primarily governed locally by the rule of spiritually mature teaching and ruling elders, as the best way to guide local congregations. When the EPC started in 1981 we determined that on the basic essentials of the Christian faith, we would not disagree, but on anything that was not essential, such as the issue of ordaining women as officers or practicing charismatic gifts, we would give each other liberty. Above all, we committed ourselves to loving each other and not engaging in quarrels and strife. The result is that when we get together in our regional and national meetings, we spend most of our time in worship and fellowship and almost none in arguing with each other. The EPC consists of a little over 550 churches and about 145,000 members. We have a world missions program with a priority on sending missionaries to unreached people groups and we are eager to plant churches across the United States, especially in urban communities and college towns. Our desire is that every one of our congregations will be an outpost of the Kingdom in post-Christian America with every member viewing himself or herself as a missionary on a mission.

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