By Cindy Solomon

A $25,000 matching challenge grant to the Golden Cross Foundation (now known as ENCORE Ministry) in 2021, resulted in almost $77,000 for a ministry that serves older adults in the new Tennessee-Western Kentucky (TWK) Conference of The United Methodist Church.

An anonymous donor initially offered to match $25,000. When that challenge was met, the donor sweetened the offer with another $5,000.

“What started as a $50,000 dream became a $76,984.73 reality,” said ENCORE Ministry Executive Director Kent McNish.

“We were thrilled by and thankful for the support and generosity of individuals, congregations, and our anonymous donor,” he said.

Donations to ENCORE Ministry help fund consultations, resources, training and support, networking opportunities, and grant funding for intentional ministry by, with, and for older adults.

“Because ENCORE Ministry receives no conference-apportioned funds,” McNish said, “we strongly encourage churches — particularly churches that have received foundation grants — to pay it forward and make a donation to ENCORE Ministry.

“One such giving opportunity is our annual special Sunday offering on the second Sunday in September. Proceeds from the offering as well as other donations from individuals and congregations, are an important funding sources for ENCORE Ministry’s older adult initiatives and grants.”

Since 2014, ENCORE Ministry has granted more than $723,000 to 69 TWK Conference churches, districts, and conference agencies. Those grants have supported senior adults in areas such as fellowship, food security, healthcare access, affordable housing, transportation, spiritual development, and accessibility to church buildings.

In addition to grant funding, ENCORE Ministry provides leader training and church consultations through ENCORE Ministry Director Dr. Richard H. Gentzler, Jr.

“I am excited to serve pastors and older adult ministry church leaders in the new TWK Conference,” Gentzler said. “We have served pastors and older adult ministry church leaders in the legacy Tennessee Conference for several years. Those relationships continue as we form new ones with our brothers and sisters in the legacy Memphis Conference.”

For grants or funding information visit or contact McNish at or 615-479-6175.

For more information about resources, leader training, and church consultations, Gentzler at or 615-400-0539.

To receive ENCORE Ministry Connection, a free monthly enewsletter highlighting recent grant recipients and offering articles and tips on ministry and resources for older adults, contact