Our Pastor


        The Rev. Dr. Darnell Gooch, Jr. serves as the Senior 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 on June 23, 2013 in the United Progressive Pentecostal Church (UPPC) under Bishop Oliver Clyde Allen, III, who is the Presiding Prelate. The UPPC is an international network of churches and ministries that reflect a diverse group of leaders engaging in a wide variety of ministry forms and methods to impact all people, communities and nations for the Kingdom of God.

        He 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.  Dr. Gooch received his Doctor In Ministry (DMin) degree from United Theological Seminary in 2014 at Dayton, Ohio where his mentors were Dr. William H. Curtis and Dr. Gina M. Stewart; Preaching Prophetically in a Postmodern Culture mentor’s group. At United Theological Seminary, Dr. Gooch successfully defended his dissertation project entitled, For the Least of These; Planting a Five Star Welcoming Congregation.

          Dr. Gooch has received numerous honors and awards for his outstanding service to the church, the community and through the Memphis Police Department where he is employed as a Memphis Police Officer since 2001 to present. . He received the Officer of the Year in 2004, 2007 and 2012. He received the Kiwanis Club of Memphis Officer of the Year in 2012. He has served as the Young Adults and Singles’ ministerial leader and Sunday school teacher at Mt. Vernon from 2001-2009. He received the Mt. Vernon Young Adult Ministry leadership award in 2008. He has been featured in the VIP magazine in the June 2010 edition of “Jumpology” as a model. He 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 life partner, Elder Davin Clemons, along with the Cathedral of Praise Church are aiming to “Transform the Memphis Culture.” Since the church’s inception in August 2012, the Cathedral of Praise has grown from 7 to 191 members on roll as of May 2015 and the congregation is still rapidly growing. The Cathedral of Praise is multiracial, welcoming and affirming. Dr. Gooch’s congregation has been a place of refuge and embraces all individuals’ right where they are in life in order that they may develop a relationship with God and become spiritually empowered in their Christian walk. He preaches and teaches love for all of humanity. He is known for his “simple,” “practical,” and sometimes “egalitarian” preaching style and he has the ability to reach and relate to people of all diverse races, ethnicities, genders, sexual orientations, classes or backgrounds. The church is ever evolving and developing several ministries such as Music Ministry, Hospitality Ministry, Children and Youth Ministry, Outreach Ministry, Evangelism Ministry, Men’s Ministry, Women’s Ministry, Intercessory Prayer Ministry, Pastoral Counseling Ministry, and more.

          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.