Our Pastor


        The Rev. Dr. Darnell Gooch, Jr. serves as the Pastor of the Cathedral of Praise Church of Memphis, Inc., which was newly established in August of 2012. Dr. Gooch is a native Memphian and “son” of the Mt. Vernon Baptist Church-Westwood where he was baptized and mentored by his pastor the Reverend Dr. James L. Netters, Sr. from 1981-2009. Dr. Gooch accepted his calling into the Gospel ministry in 2001 and was later ordained in the Gospel ministry under the leadership of Dr. Netters in 2006. Dr. Gooch formerly served as the Chief Senior Elder from 2009-2012 at the Mt. Gilead Ministries under the late pastorate of the Bishop Charles E. Cartwright as an Associate Minister. In 2013, Dr. Gooch was affirmed as Pastor, in 2016 as Presiding Elder and in 2017 as Overseer-Designate in the United Progressive Pentecostal Church (UPPC) under Bishop Oliver Clyde Allen, III, who is the Presiding Prelate. As Overseer-Designate, Dr. Gooch is the prelate of the South Central Region.

        Dr. Gooch is a 1999 graduate of Overton High School. He earned a Bachelor of Arts (BA) degree in Criminal Justice Administration in 2006 from LeMoyne-Owen College in Memphis, Tennessee. In 2011, he received a Master of Divinity (MDiv) from the Memphis Theological Seminary in Memphis, Tennessee. He received his Doctor in Ministry (DMin) degree from United Theological Seminary in 2014 at Dayton, Ohio. Dr. Gooch is employed as a Memphis Police Officer since 2001 to present. Dr. Gooch is the Founder and Executive Director of the Cathedral Foundation, Inc., a 501c3 charitable organization that concentrates on education, health/wellness, culture and social services along with allies to effect positive change in the community. The organization’s goal is to ensure that individuals of all backgrounds have the opportunity to build healthy, productive and inspiring lives. The Cathedral Foundation, Inc. strives to provide hope to individuals through vibrant quality programs and events, i.e., Tri-State Black Pride. The Tri-State Black Pride showcases the meaning of unity, pride, promotes equality, inclusion, human rights, education, culture and arts. It brings awareness to HIV/AIDS prevention, treatment and advocacy. Dr. Gooch has fought alongside other clergypersons for equality in the City of Memphis, which in September 2012 passed a non-discrimination ordinance that prohibited the discrimination of all its employees. This ordinance added the prohibition of discriminating against the LBGT community into its other clauses.

Dr. Gooch and his husband, “First Gentleman” Dr. Davin Clemons, along with the Cathedral of Praise Church are aiming to “Transform the Memphis Culture.” The Cathedral of Praise is multiracial, welcoming and affirming. Dr. Gooch strives in his preaching and teaching to focus on emotional healing, restoring hope and the spiritual power of the believer. His hermeneutical approach to prophetic preaching has exhibited authentic biblical exegesis for Christian teaching. His political and theological development over the span of years has motivated his ministry to challenge oppression, marginalization, spiritual and social impact that has left people feeling unwelcomed. It is his vision to see lives saved, unwelcomed people become psychologically and spiritually liberated and embraced in order for them to be able to walk in their vocation.