News & Events

Problem Solving in the Midst of Change and Loss

by Dr. Richard H. Gentzler, Jr., director, ENCORE Ministry

With the COVID-19 pandemic, church leaders have experienced great change in how we do effective ministry. In some cases, the loss of face-to-face gatherings with social distancing, changes in the way we greet people (without hugs and handshakes), celebrate Holy Communion or holy baptism, or even in passing of the peace during worship services can be troublesome. Problem solving in the midst of change and loss takes on a whole new dimension for leaders during this crisis. Perhaps church leaders can learn something about problem solving by using the SOC method of coping with change and loss.

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Golden Cross Launches New Strategic Initiatives Grant

During these uncertain times — especially for older adults — the board searched for additional ways to offer support and assistance to communities seeking to serve the needs of their older citizens. In May 2020, board members unanimously approved the Strategic Initiatives Grant which offers funding for ministry and other initiatives serving basic needs of older adults in the areas of nutrition, housing, transportation, and healthcare.

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Counseling Center at Belle Meade UMC Receives Grant to Supplement Counseling Fees

Since its launch in 2017, the Counseling Center at Nashville’s Belle Meade United Methodist Church has served more than 30 individuals and couples aged 65 and over, about 15 percent of all clients served, in 240 counseling sessions. The center was created to provide a place on the west side of Nashville—Belle Meade, West Meade, Bellevue—for professional pastoral counseling.

“Our goal was to provide services to both Belle Meade United Methodist Church members and the larger community,” said the Rev. Jim Hughes, Belle Meade’s senior pastor. “Our hope was to provide, as much as possible, services to senior adult clients who could not afford the regular fee. Initially we offered a sliding scale to church members. Over time, the center has been able to extend that option to some people in the community.”

Money used to supplement counseling fees has come, in part, from two grants from the Golden Cross Foundation. The first $2,500 grant was awarded in 2018. A second $2,500 grant was awarded this year.

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Caring for Older Adults — From a Distance

by Dr. Richard H. Gentzler, Jr., director, ENCORE Ministry

As church leaders, our calling to love our neighbors is not something new, but it is ever evolving and changing as we understand the new normal being realized in our churches and communities as we face the COVID-19 pandemic.

As the coronavirus continues to invade countries, states, counties, and neighborhoods, healthcare workers, medical equipment, and resources are stretched to the limit. Churches and businesses are closed and families are staying home. There is growing concern about significant financial, physical, and mental health needs as social isolation is magnified.

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The Coronavirus, the Elderly, and the Church

by Dr. Richard H. Gentzler, Jr., director, ENCORE Ministry

How can churches get ahead of this public health crisis in light of increasing reluctance of people to gather in groups of any size?

This question was posed by my friend, Dr. Richard Bergstrom, in his recent newsletter article “I’m thinking about giving up church for Lent”. Bergstrom is president of ChurchHealth, a non-profit organization focused on renewal, coaching, and church consulting (www.re-ignite.net).

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May Celebrates Older Americans Month

by Dr. Richard H. Gentzler, Jr., director, ENCORE Ministry

Every May, The United Methodist Church invites local churches to observe Older Americans Month. In past years, church leaders were invited to provide opportunities – whether on a Sunday morning during worship services or another day and time – to recognize older adults’ distinctive gifts and challenges. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, leaders this year will need to exercise caution and creativity in observing the month.

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Madison Street UMC Receives $7,500 Grant for iPad Pilot Project

Madison Street United Methodist Church in Clarksville, Tennessee, received a $7,500 grant from the Golden Cross Foundation. Money from this grant was used to start an iPad pilot project for older adults.

“Older adults have become isolated because many church communications – newsletters, schedules, and other church information – are now distributed electronically,” said Aleeta Christian, chair of the church’s Electronic Train team.

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The Art and Joy of Giving Money Away

The Golden Cross Foundation (GCF) was chartered in 2013 to support the creation and development of older adult ministries in local churches of the Tennessee Conference of The United Methodist Church. Part of that work involves the GCF board approving grant money to give away each quarter. Grant programs focus on health, transportation, nutrition, housing, and outreach and support for older adults.

Giving money away does not imply there is an unlimited supply. But the funds accessed by GCF are generous for investing in the quality of life of older adults.

Since the launch of GCF seven years ago, members of the board have granted more than $500,000 to local churches and United Methodist organizations.

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Reviving My Methodism

by Dr. Harry Smith

My Methodism has been revived.

“Revived from what?” you may ask.

“Revived from being very dormant between the ages of 14 and 64,” I would say. During those years I thought other things were more important.

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Golden Cross Foundation Awards More than $100K in 2019

The Golden Cross Foundation, awarded more than $100,000 to churches and organizations throughout the conference in 2019. Grant money was used to start an iPad pilot project for older adults, retrofit churches with ramps and lifts, broaden an older adult choir’s outreach to the surrounding community, provide financial assistance for feeding ministries and older adult ministry programs, and help launch an intergenerational home sharing program.

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Feeding Ministries Provide Needed Relief to Middle Tennesseans

According to the Second Harvest Food Bank of Middle Tennessee, one in eight Middle Tennesseans struggles with hunger on a daily basis. Factors contributing to food insecurity include job instability, overwhelming medical bills, inability to drive, and lack of access to programs available to help such as federally supported SNAP and WIC programs.

Thanks in part to funding from the Golden Cross Foundation, two Middle Tennessee United Methodist churches are reaching out and helping individuals and families in their communities through food ministry programs.

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Learning to Grow Old

Recently, when I was consulting with a local church in my role as director of ENCORE Ministry, I was approached by an older woman with a big smile on her face. She said that she was looking forward to my visit with leaders of the older adult ministry in her church. And then she said, “Now, someone can tell me how to grow old!”

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Martin Methodist College’s Health Initiative Continues to Keep Middle Tennesseans Healthy

In October 2017, the Jeanette M. Travis School of Nursing at Martin Methodist College (MMC) received a $93,000 grant from the Golden Cross Foundation. The grant helped fund a rural health initiative through which  MMC nursing faculty and nursing students provide health screenings and wellness information in various rural and urban communities in Middle Tennessee.

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Golden Cross Foundation Launches Golden Cross Connections

Welcome to the first issue of Golden Cross Connections, a free bimonthly electronic newsletter published by the Golden Cross Foundation (GCF). Founded in 2013, the GCF is a non-profit corporation and extension ministry of the Tennessee Conference of The United Methodist Church. It provides funding assistance for new and ongoing ministries and services with older adults in the Tennessee Conference and provides expertise and strategic planning to the conference for the expansion of innovative and effective ministries with older adults.

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Hillcrest and Gordon Memorial UMC’s Clubs Minister to Senior Adults

Ministry with senior adults isn’t just a Sunday-morning calling for two Nashville-area United Methodist churches. Weekday clubs for senior adult member and community residents are key ministries for Hillcrest and Gordon Memorial.

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ENCORE Ministry: Intentional Older Adult Ministry

We are living in a world of rapid change. One of the greatest challenges church leaders will face is our growing aging population and the graying of our congregations. Since older adults have historically been the most religiously active of all age groups, this shift in demographics is having a significant impact on how we do ministry.

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Golden Cross Foundation Celebrates Four Years of Ministry and Service

Since 2013, I’ve been blessed to serve on the Golden Cross Foundation’s board of directors. During that time, we’ve provided grants and training to help United Methodist churches and organizations in the Tennessee Conference meet the needs of our conference’s fastest-growing demographic group – midlife and mature adults.

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ENCORE Ministries

ENCORE Ministries is a new, valuable resource that is now available in the Tennessee Conference to help congregations meet the needs of the fastest growing demographic group in our conference.  And, because this ministry is funded by a grant from the Golden Cross Foundation, there is no cost to congregations for its service.

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Book: “Designing an Older Adult Ministry”

Building on the success of Designing a Ministry by, with, and for Older Adults, author Rick Gentzler gives readers new ways to develop and strengthen ministries with older adults.

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Helpful Websites Related to Ministry with Older Adults

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