Many folks grew up with only one pastor, or at least one position of Pastor in their church. At Hope, we feature a preaching/teaching team.
Rev. Rufus Smith (Senior Pastor), preaches most often followed by Dr. Eli Morris (Senior Associate Pastor), and Dr. Craig Strickland (Founding Pastor) speaks as well.
In addition, Rev. Jessica Morris (Digital Pastor) also makes valuable weekend contributions. This rotation allows the congregation to benefit from different perspectives. Our preaching/teaching team puts biblical faith into easy modern language for application in your everyday life.
Preaching & Teaching Team
He's dubbed himself "The Most Interesting Man In the World," and the fact he holds Masters degrees from both Princeton and Duke makes us believe he can back up the claim. While he's not busy being interesting he heads up Hope's Singles Ministry and is a Pastoral Intern.
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.
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 & Urban 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 also is the pastor of our unique Sunday evening service, The Stirring.
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. 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.
Although born in Tampa, FL, Jessica considers Memphis (and Hope Church) her home. In high school Jessica fell in love with the youth group here at Hope Church and has ben hooked ever since. She earned her BS in Psychology from Crichton College while working as a Senior High Intern. After earning her undergraduate degree she came on staff as the Girls Senior High Director. In 2010, Jessica felt the call to seminary and in December 2014 she earned her Masters of Divinity with honors. Jessica was ordained in 2015 as the first female pastor at Hope Church and is passionate about preaching and teaching the Word of God as well as investing in people's lives. Jessica lives in Midtown with her husband, Tommy, and their two girls.