TSD Memphis

Sat04192014

Religion

The Rev. Rufus Smith next up at Hope Church

Rev RufusSmith-200

The largest church in Memphis – and the second largest Presbyterian Church in the country – has announced a new senior pastor. But he's no stranger to the church.

Hope Church has named the Rev. Rufus Smith IV, its current senior associate pastor, to lead the church. Current Senior Pastor Dr. R. Craig Strickland will maintain a very active and visible role within the church in his new position as founding pastor.

Smith will be installed into his new role the weekend of Nov. 16-17.

Rev. Smith is eager to continue Hope's mission of embracing those who may have given up on church or even given up on God. That mission includes creating a welcoming environment for Memphians at any stage in their life, with a particular emphasis on Smith's passion for developing and deploying the next generation.

"Time will not erase nor ages destroy the lingering gospel legacy of Hope Church under the voice, vision and venture of Richard Craig Strickland. I am most undeserving, honored and greatly humbled," Smith said.

A native of Houston, Texas, Smith joined the Hope staff in 2010, although he has had very close ties with Strickland and Eli Morris, associate pastor, since 1998. His previous roles have included serving as senior pastor of the City of Refuge Evangelical Presbyterian Church in Houston and also as chaplain for the NBA team, the Houston Rockets.

Strickland is eagerly looking forward to Smith's leadership.

"I'm incredibly excited for Rufus to officially transition into the role of senior pastor of Hope Church. In all the years I've had the privilege of knowing him, I can't think of another person better suited to lead Hope into the future," Strickland said.

"He shares the same charisma, passion and forward-thinking that have helped grow Hope for the last 25 years, and I can't wait to see where he takes it in the next 25," Strickland said.

Associate Pastor Dr. Eli Morris will continue in his role of leading Hope's Sunday evening service, The Stirring, and the church's urban ministries.

"I am extremely excited about what the future holds," Morris said. "These are wonderful times for Hope Church, and I am thrilled to support Rufus in his new role."