Hope Church moves off campus

The Church will now rent space at the Westside Multi-Generational Center

Hope Church will stop holding church services on the ASU campus; starting Sunday the congregation will instead gather at the Westside Multi-Generational Center in Tempe. 

The Church has reserved the center for every Sunday through December, said Mercedes Payne, the senior recreation coordinator for the city of Tempe.

It will cost Hope just over $1,000 per Sunday to rent a gym in the center, which is a public facility owned by the city of Tempe, Payne said. The Church would have had to pay $3,500 per day to continue using ASU’s Neeb Hall for its services. 

Previously, Hope Church leadership said they were not planning on moving off campus. 

Hope spokesperson Ricky Ruedaflores later said in an Aug. 12 email that Church members were “considering other options for Sunday service but haven't made any final decisions.” 

Church leadership could not be reached for comment for this story.

Payne, the recreation coordinator, said the center is aware of Hope’s history with ASU, which includes University investigations into the Church’s conduct on campus. 

“We usually do our research on groups who want to come in, and we did have a discussion regarding that,” Payne said. “They brought to our attention the situation ... being a government facility, that’s not our area to judge.”

Payne said the center hosts groups with a variety of ideologies and is open to everyone. 

“As long as when they’re in our facility, they abide by our rules, we have no reason to not allow them in the building,” she said.

The University also declined to comment for this story. 

Hope Church has begun rebranding its online presence to remove some references to ASU. Its Twitter, Facebook and Instagram accounts have all recently changed from “@hope4asu” to “@hopechurchtempe.

Its website, which used to be under the domain hope4asu.org, is now hopechurchtempe.org.

Hope has been operating on the ASU campus since 2004, according to its website. As a member of the Council of Religious Advisors, or CORA, it was able to use the space there without cost.

Read more: Hope Church voted out of CORA

CORA voted to revoke Hope’s membership this summer, so the Church will now have to pay to use all ASU facilities. Unaffiliated groups are charged $8 per seat for room usage, according to the ASU Classroom Scheduling department.

Financial data collected by the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability showed that Hope ended 2015 — the last year data was available — with $29,230 in excess funds, or 1.8 percent of its total budget.

Hope collected more than $1.5 million in cash donations in 2015, compared to just over $1 million in 2013, according to the financial documents. But its expenses have kept pace, and it is unclear what that additional money is being spent on. 

Some of Hope’s five affiliated clubs, which were sanctioned in February, may still be planning on operating on campus. Two re-registered as student organizations this year, according to ASU officials. 

Sun Devil Survivor held its annual retreat to northern Arizona over Labor Day. Its president Brian Smith Jr. — the son of Hope Church pastor Brian Smith Sr. — could not be reached for comment. 

Sun Devils Wear Prada has not updated its official club page since February, but its Instagram page has been updated as recently as this week. Its student leadership could not be reached for comment.


Reach the reporter at reillykneedler@gmail.com  or follow @reillykneedler on Twitter.

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