Dr. Richard H. Gentzler, Jr. (Rick) is the director for ENCORE Ministries, a ministry of the Golden Cross Foundation of the Tennessee Conference – UMC. He is recently retired from the Susquehanna Annual Conference and is the former director of the Center on Aging and Older Adult Ministries for the General Board of Discipleship of The United Methodist Church.
Dr. Gentzler is an internationally recognized leader in the field of aging and older adult ministries. He is a much sought after speaker, teacher, writer, and seminar leader with vast expertise in religious gerontology. Recent highlights of his ministry include: 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; received the “Outstanding Leadership in Older Adult Ministries” Award from the United Methodist Committee on Older Adult Ministries in 2012; received 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 at the United Nations Second World Assembly on Ageing in Madrid, Spain.
Dr. Gentzler is an adjunct faculty member for the School of TransformAging at Lipscomb University and teaches classes on aging and older adult ministries. He serves on the board of directors for the Council on Aging of Middle Tennessee, and works with the Tennessee Conference Committee on Adult/Older Adult Ministries and the Golden Cross Foundation. He also serves as chair of the Intentional Older Adult Ministry Network (an ecumenical group of church leaders) which meets monthly at Lipscomb University.
Dr. Gentzler is author of numerous books and hundreds of articles on aging, midlife, and older adult ministry. His latest book is Aging & Ministry in the 21st Century: an Inquiry Approach. Other books he authored or co-authored include: Gen2Gen: Sharing Jesus with All Generations; 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. He is former editor of Center Sage newsletter and in 2005 he produced the award winning video on aging titled, New Beginnings: the Gifts of Aging.
In addition to serving 22 years with the General Board of Discipleship, Dr. Gentzler has been in ministry for 40+ years. He pastored churches in Pennsylvania and Maryland and served as a chaplain in various nursing homes (including developing a chaplaincy program while earning his doctorate at Boston University). In addition to teaching at Lipscomb University in Nashville, he has taught at 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 and they have two children: a son, Richard III who is a pediatric dentist and lives with his family in Brentwood, TN; and a daughter, Elizabeth who is an attorney and lives with her family in Chattanooga, TN.