Preaching & Teaching Team

Most people likely grew up with only one pastor in their church, at Hope we feature a Preaching & Teaching team allowing the congregation to experience different perspectives of God's word. Our pastors not only challenge us week-to-week to live more like Christ, they also walk us through Scripture with modern day language and easy application for our everyday life.

Our Preaching & Teaching team consists of: Rev. Rufus Smith (Senior Pastor), Dr. Eli Morris (Senior Associate Pastor) and Chad Johnson (Pastor of Community Engagement). 

Founding Pastor, Dr. Craig Strickland also contributes to our Preaching & Teaching team throughout the year. 

Rev. Rufus Smith

Senior Pastor

Rev. Rufus Smith, IV is the Senior Pastor of Hope Evangelical Presbyterian Church (EPC) in Memphis, Tennessee, a mega Presbyterian congregation. He joined Hope in September 2010 as Associate Pastor of Discipleship and, in October of 2013, was elected as Senior Pastor to succeed the Founding Pastor of 25 years, Dr. Richard Craig Strickland. Over the past 8 years, Hope EPC has transitioned from a pre-dominantly Caucasian to a multi-ethnic church in the deep south, with 30% of members being people of color. In 2016, he Founded the Memphis Christian Pastor’s Network (MCPN) an ethnically & denominationally diverse clergy-only network that “bridges the trust-gap” between pastors via candid conversation, supplication, and social interaction—outside of church walls.

Dr. Eli Morris

Senior Associate Pastor

A lifelong resident of Memphis, Eli graduated from Overton High School followed by his B.S. from Memphis State. Eli received his Master of Divinity with honors from Memphis Theological Seminary and his Doctor of Ministry from Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California. Eli’s concern for the poor has been a hallmark of his work at Hope. His current role at Hope as the Senior Associate & Local Ministry Pastor finds him each and every day engaging with and ministering to those who live with the challenges of poverty. He serves on the boards of STREETS Ministry, Oasis of Hope, Luke 4:18 Ministries, MIFA Emergency Services and is the Chaplain with the FBI Memphis Division. Eli is also the pastor of our unique Sunday evening service, The Stirring.

Chad johnson

Pastor of Community Engagement

Chad has been a part of the Hope Church family for more than 15 years. Throughout his tenure at Hope, Chad has served as the Hope 4 Kids’ Pastor working alongside infants-5th grade students and their families and Middle School Pastor serving students in the many changes and challenges they go through. These ministry opportunities and more have prepared Pastor Chad to relate the stories of Christ and his Word within all aspects of our lives. No matter where you find yourself, you can always count on Chad for an encouraging word, a listening ear and a funny story to help paint a clearer picture of God’s love for us. Chad is married to his wife, Julie, they have three children that keep them on the go while constantly reminding them to always have fun. Chad graduated with his undergraduate degree in Exercise Science (Pre-PT) w/ a minor in Church ministry and missions from Samford University and later continued his education with receiving a Masters of Divinity from Reformed Theological Seminary in Orlando, Florida.

dr. craig strickland

Founding Pastor

Dr. Craig Strickland began Hope in 1988 in a living room with eight original members. Hope has reached out to people and churches of all denominations and faith communities with a message filled with hope and guided by a commitment to servant-leadership at every level. Today, Hope welcomes over 7000 members and visitors every weekend. Craig graduated from Messick High School in Memphis. After high school, he graduated from Memphis State University and received both his Masters of Divinity and Doctor of Ministry Degrees from Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California. He was the founding member and Chairman of the Board of The Memphis Leadership Foundation and has served on numerous committees involving church growth.