Since 2015 the Rev. Dr. Richard H. Gentzler, Jr. (Rick) has served as director of ENCORE Ministry. Gentzler directs the work of committee members providing consultation, training and support, resources, and networking opportunities for church leaders in the Tennessee-Western Kentucky Conference of The United Methodist Church for implementing and expanding intentional ministry by, with, and for older adults.
Gentzler, a 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 Nashville Public Television’s NPT Reports: Aging Matters concerning elder abuse and exploitation
- Serving on Tennessee Governor Haslam’s Task Force on Aging
- Keynote presenter at 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)
- Presenter for NGOs at the United Nations Second World Assembly on Aging in Madrid, Spain
Gentzler is the author of numerous books and hundreds of articles on aging and older adult ministry including
- An Age of Opportunity: Intentional Older Adult Ministry
- 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
- Rock of Ages
He served as content editor and wrote the Foreword for The Church Responds to Abuse, Neglect, and Exploitation by Joy Thornton Melton. Gentzler also produced an award-winning video on older adult ministry, New Beginnings: The Gifts of Aging.
Having been in ministry for nearly 50 years, Gentzler pastored churches in Pennsylvania and Maryland and served as a chaplain in long-term care settings. In 1991, he joined the staff at the General Board of Discipleship of The United Methodist Church, serving as director of the Center on Aging and Older Adult Ministries. In 2013, he retired from both the Susquehanna Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church and the General Board of Discipleship. Over the years, Dr. Gentzler has taught classes and workshops on aging and older adult ministries at Martin Methodist College (now UT Southern) 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 and workshops at various annual conferences, districts, and local churches throughout the U.S.
Dr. Gentzler holds the following degrees: Bachelor of Science in Education from Shippensburg (Pennsylvania) University, 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 adult children and two grandchildren.