Rev. Rufus Smith IV, senior pastor of Hope Evangelical Presbyterian Church in Memphis, Tenn., will speak at Grove City College’s 2019 Baccalaureate Service at 7 p.m. Friday, May 17.
Smith is an accomplished faith leader in the Evangelical Presbyterian Church (EPC) and an active force working to improve lives in the Memphis community. Smith believes that the authentic and attractive gospel of Jesus Christ consists of three, equally necessary things: preaching, teaching and healing.
“Rev. Smith’s dedication to the work of Christ’s church will inspire our graduates to devote themselves to the ministry of the gospel no matter where they are headed, personally or professionally,” Grove City College President Paul J. McNulty ’80, said. “We are privileged to be able to host him and excited that he will be helping us send the class of 2019 into the world.”
After speaking at the service for graduates, Smith will be awarded an honorary Doctor of Divinity degree by Grove City College at the 2019 Commencement on Saturday, May 18, where U.S. Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Neb., will deliver an address to graduates, their family and friends and the campus community.
As well as leading the Hope EPC congregation, Smith is the founder of Memphis Christian Pastor’s Network, an ethnically and denominationally diverse group of pastors that aims to cultivate trust and collaboration between clergy to leverage their influence to address economic disparity in the city.
Smith joined Hope EPC in September 2010 as associate pastor of Discipleship and was elected as senior pastor in 2013. The church has transitioned to a multi-ethnic congregation over the last eight years, with 30 percent of its members now being people of color.
Previously Smith was senior pastor of The City of Refuge Presbyterian Church, an interracial, inter-generational, biblically centered and socially active fellowship in his hometown of Houston, Texas. There he founded the Forge for Families, a community development center designed to empower the under-resourced. Under his leadership, the Forge successfully completed a $6.4 million-dollar capital campaign and built a 40,000 square-foot campus, debt free. He also served as lead chaplain for the NBA’s Houston Rockets for three years.