The Rev. Dr. Richard H. Gentzler, Jr. (Rick) is the Director of Encore Ministry, a ministry of the Golden Cross Foundation of the Tennessee Conference of The United Methodist Church. He is retired both from the Susquehanna Annual Conference and as the director of the Center on Aging and Older Adult Ministries for the General Board of Discipleship of The United Methodist Church.
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. He is a resource consultant for the Tennessee Conference Committee on Adult/Older Adult Ministries and for the Golden Cross Foundation. 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 and is an internationally recognized leader in the field of aging and older adult ministries. Recent highlights of his ministry include: 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 in 2013; recipient of the “Outstanding Leadership in Older Adult Ministries Award” from the United Methodist Committee on Older Adult Ministries in 2012; recipient of the “Spirituality and Aging Award” from the National Council on Aging (NCOA) and National Interfaith Coalition on Aging (NICA) in 2003; and, in 2002 was 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, midlife, and older adult ministry. His latest book, An Age of Opportunity: Intentional Older Adult Ministry, was recently published by Discipleship Resources. Other books and resources he has written 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 also served as content editor and wrote the Foreword for The Church Responds to Abuse, Neglect, and Exploitation. In 2005, he produced the award winning video on aging and 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 various long-term care settings, and was the director of aging and older adult ministries for 22 years with the General Board of Discipleship. In addition, he has taught classes on aging and older adult ministries at Martin Methodist College and Lipscomb University (both in TN), Lycoming College in Williamsport, PA, Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington, DC, Asbury Theological Seminary in Wilmore, KY, and Union Presbyterian Seminary in Richmond, VA.
Dr. Gentzler holds the following degrees: Bachelor of Science in Social Science from Shippensburg University (Shippensburg, PA), Master of Divinity from Wesley Theological Seminary (Washington, DC), Doctor of Ministry from Boston University School of Theology (Boston, MA), 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.