ENCORE Ministry is a valuable resource available in the Tennessee Conference to help congregations meet the needs of the fastest-growing demographic group in our conference.  And, because this ministry is funded by a grant from the Golden Cross Foundation, there is no cost to congregations or districts for its service.

Our world is getting older.  And it’s getting older fast. An age revolution is taking place in our nation where thousands of people each day are entering their retirement years and the Third Age of life.

The age revolution is not just a national phenomenon. Tennessee is considered one of the best states for retirement. The number of residents 65 years and older continues to grow.

Like no other time in history, this emerging population trend of midlife and mature adults is providing local churches with a unique opportunity to reach out and minister to and through them. With growing numbers of midlife and mature adults in our pews, congregations have an opportunity to be blessed by the gifts, prayers, presence, service, and witness of their older members.  If given a chance, older adults can provide congregations with a unique opportunity to make a significant and positive impact in the life of our communities.

Unfortunately, many church leaders have little training or understanding in knowing how ministry by, with, and for midlife and mature adults can help bring about a new vitality to their congregations.

There are several churches in the Tennessee Conference that are actively engaged in ministry with midlife and mature adults.  Unfortunately, many church leaders have little training or understanding in knowing how ministry by, with, and for midlife and mature adults can help bring about a new vitality to their congregations.  If we are to seize this moment in time, congregational leaders must be trained and provided with effective resources.  We will need to build ministries that are creative, intentional, and led by people who are equipped, inspired, and passionate for the task.

To meet the needs of an aging population, the Golden Cross Foundation of the Tennessee  Conference of The United Methodist Church has taken the initiative to help establish ENCORE Ministry. In addition to providing grant funding as seed money to assist congregations in creating intentional midlife and mature adult ministries, the Golden Cross Foundation has provided funding for ENCORE Ministry so that all congregations, whether large or small, urban or rural, can receive assistance of ENCORE Ministry without cost.

What is ENCORE Ministry? Under the direction of the Rev. Dr. Richard H. Gentzler, Jr., ENCORE Ministry provides training and support, resources, and networking opportunities to equip church leaders in the Tennessee Conference for intentional ministry by, with, and for midlife and mature adults.  Prior to becoming the director of ENCORE Ministry, Dr. Gentzler was the director of the Center on Aging and Older Adult Ministries for the then General Board of Discipleship (now known as Discipleship Ministries). He has over 40 years of experience in ministry with The United Methodist Church as pastor, teacher, and seminar leader.  He is author of numerous books and hundreds of articles on aging, midlife, and older adult ministries and he has traveled internationally helping church leaders capture a new vision for congregational ministries with midlife and mature adults.

Under Dr. Gentzler’s supervision, ENCORE Ministry will also assist congregations and districts in the grant application process in which they can obtain grant funding from Golden Cross Foundation for intentional ministries by, with, and for midlife and older adults.

For more information about ENCORE Ministry and how Dr. Gentzler (Rick) can help provide assistance for your congregation in older adult ministries contact him by email at Richard.gentzler@tnumc.com