Summer of Faith Preaching Series

Think we are taking the summer off? Think again. We invited noted local speakers to join us and speak on a selected theme. Speakers and themes change annually. Join us in the church sanctuary on Sundays at 11 A.M. This program occurs each summer when our church is on hiatus from its regular program for both children and adults. Here's this year's program brochure.


Rev. Hester Mathes

Associate Rector, Church of the Holy Communion, Episcopal

Sunday, June 25

The Reverend Hester Mathes was born and raised in Memphis, and graduated from The College of William and Mary with a B.A. in music. After careers in both youth ministry and fine arts, Hester returned to graduate school and earned her Masters of Divinity from Virginia Theological Seminary in 2014. She began her ordained ministry at Church of the Holy Communion in July 2014, first as a Curate and currently as Associate Rector, with a focus on Outreach and Interfaith relations. Hester currently serves on the board of City of Soul: Episcopal Service Corps in Memphis. When not at the church, Hester and her husband, Andy, can most often be found shuttling and cheering on their two children, Neeley and Zander. .

Rev. Carlton Elliott Smith

Congregational Life Staff, UUA Southern Region

Sunday, July 2

Rev. Carlton Elliott Smith joined the UUA Southern Region's Congregational Life Staff in August 2013. In that capacity, he is most often called upon to support congregations as they negotiate with ministers, enter into transition periods, and learn about Compassionate Communication and dynamics of institutional change. From July 2015 to December 2017, Carlton was deeply involved in establishing a long-term presence for the Movement for Black Lives within our UUA. Ordained in 1995, he has served congregations of various sizes in Metro New York, Greater Boston, Northern Virginia and Oakland, California. He lives in Holly Springs, Mississippi.

Rabbi Feivel Strauss

Temple Israel, Memphis

Sunday, July 9

Feivel Strauss is a rabbi at Temple Israel in Memphis, TN where he is involved with the interfaith community as well as the ethics committee at Le Bonheur Children's hospital. Feivel grew up in Boca Raton, Florida and then lived in Israel for fifteen years where he served in the Israel Defense Force. He earned his degrees from Bar Ilan University and received his rabbinic ordination from the Shalom Hartman Institute. He met his wife Abbie in Jerusalem and they enjoy running after their son Joseph age 4 and daughter Eden age 3.

Dr. Bashar Shala

Founding physician of Memphis Cardiovascular Center

Sunday, July 16

Dr. Shala was born in Aleppo, Syria in 1967 and is a U.S. citizen. His medical school training was completed at the University of Aleppo where he graduated in 1990. Dr. Shala completed his Internal Medicine training (1994), Cardiology training (1999) and Interventional Cardiology training (2000) at UT-Memphis. He is Board-Certified in all three areas. Dr. Shala has been a Staff Cardiologist at Memphis Heart Clinic since 2000. Since 2007, he has been the President of Memphis Cardiovascular Society. From 2003-2004, Dr. Shala served as Vice President of Muslim Society of Memphis. Currently, Dr. Shala is the Chairman, Board of Trustees of Memphis Islamic Center. He co-founded and has been the Vice President of Memphis Friendship Foundation since 2011. His religious interests include Islamic History and Islamic Theology and promoting philanthropy and inter-faith relations. In addition to speaking regularly to faith-based organizations around the Memphis area, Dr. Shala is also involved with national and international organizations.

Rev. Beth Lefever

Neshoba UU Church

Sunday, July 23

Rev. Beth Lefever was a sociology major at Indiana University South Bend, and received a M.Div. degree from Meadville Lombard Theological School in Chicago. She completed field work in Kalamazoo, Michigan and Muncie, Indiana. She served the Berrien UU Fellowship in St. Joseph, Michigan for four years as their halftime religious leader, and was doing poetry workshops for county jail inmates in her hometown of Elkhart, Indiana, before accepting the call to Neshoba UU Church. Beth has been with Neshoba UU Church for six years.

The Honorable Jim Strickland

Mayor of Memphis

Sunday, July 30

Jim Strickland was sworn in as mayor of Memphis on Jan. 1, 2016, pledging to work toward making ours a safer and stronger city, to lead a transparent and trustworthy government, and to have an administration that applies, in his words, “new eyes to solve old problems.” After an eight-year tenure as a member of the Memphis City Council, Mayor Strickland was elected to the city’s top office on Oct. 8, 2015. Mayor Strickland served as vice chairman of the council in 2013 and as its chairman in 2014. In eight years representing District 5 on the City Council, then-councilman Strickland became known for fighting for government transparency and public safety. Mayor Strickland is a 1982 graduate of Christian Brothers High School, a 1986 graduate of the University of Memphis and a 1989 graduate of the Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law at the U of M. He practiced law at Glankler Brown PLLC from 1990 to 1998, when he began practicing at Kustoff & Strickland PLLC, where he remained until becoming mayor. Community service has long been a part of Mayor Strickland’s life. He has volunteered with various organizations, such as the St. Vincent de Paul Soup Kitchen, and has served on many different community boards, including chairing the Memphis Botanic Garden board of directors. He is a gold life member of the NAACP. Mayor Strickland and his wife, Melyne, have two children.