In 2015, the Rev. Dr. Richard H. Gentzler, Jr. (Rick) became director of Encore Ministry, a ministry of the Tennessee Conference of The United Methodist Church and funded by the Golden Cross Foundation. As director of Encore Ministry, Dr. Gentzler provides consultation, training and support, resources, and networking opportunities for church leaders in the Tennessee Conference for their ministry by, with, and for older adults. In addition, Dr. Gentzler serves as the president of the Board of Directors for the Council on Aging of Middle Tennessee.
Dr. Gentzler, a much sought-after speaker, teacher, and writer, is an internationally recognized leader in the field of aging and older adult ministries. Recent highlights of his ministry include: being featured on the Nashville Public Television’s “NPT Reports: Aging Matters” concerning a program on Elder Abuse and Exploitation; being selected by Governor Haslam in 2013 to serve on the Governor’s Task Force on Aging for the state of Tennessee; keynote presenter for International Conferences on Aging and Older Adult Ministries in Australia and New Zealand; recipient of the Outstanding Leadership in Older Adult Ministries Award from the United Methodist Committee on Older Adult Ministries; recipient of the Spirituality and Aging Award from the National Council on Aging (NCOA) and National Interfaith Coalition on Aging (NICA); and, being selected as a presenter for NGOs at the United Nations Second World Assembly on Ageing in Madrid, Spain.
Dr. Gentzler is author of numerous books and hundreds of articles on aging and older adult ministry. His latest book, An Age of Opportunity: Intentional Older Adult Ministry, was published in 2018. Other books and resources written by him include: Aging & Ministry in the 21st Century: an Inquiry Approach; The Graying of the Church; Designing an Older Adult Ministry; Aging: God’s Challenge to Church and Synagogue; Forty-Sixty: A Guide for Midlife Adults Who Want to Make a Difference; 1999 International Year of Older Persons: Resource Materials for Congregational Ministry with Older Adults; The Pulse of United Methodist Baby Boomers; and, Rock of Ages (a large print worship and song book). He served as content editor and wrote the Foreword for The Church Responds to Abuse, Neglect, and Exploitation by Joy Thornton Melton. And, he produced the award winning video on older adult ministry titled, New Beginnings: the Gifts of Aging.
Dr. Gentzler has been in ministry for 45 years. He pastored churches in Pennsylvania and Maryland, served as chaplain in long-term care settings, and in 1991 he joined the staff at the General Board of Discipleship of The United Methodist Church, where he became director of the Center on Aging and Older Adult Ministries. In 2013, he retired from both the Susquehanna Annual Conference and the General Board of Discipleship. Over the years, Dr. Gentzler taught classes and workshops on aging and older adult ministries at Martin Methodist College and Lipscomb University (both in Tennessee); Lycoming College in Williamsport, Pennsylvania; Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington, DC; Asbury Theological Seminary in Wilmore, Kentucky; and Union Presbyterian Seminary in Richmond, Virginia. He has also led countless seminars at conferences, in districts, and with local churches.
Dr. Gentzler holds the following degrees: Bachelor of Science in Social Science from Shippensburg University (Shippensburg, Pennsylvania), Master of Divinity from Wesley Theological Seminary (Washington, DC), Doctor of Ministry from Boston University School of Theology (Boston, Massachusetts), and a Certificate in Aging Studies from Boston University Institute for Geriatric Social Work. He is married to the former Marilyn Ann Hozyash. They have two married children and two grandchildren.