My name is Bob Olliff and I serve as the staff-parish relations chair of First United Methodist Church of Pensacola. On March 6th, I had the honor of announcing that the Bishop has appointed the Rev. Dr. Geoffrey Lentz as the next Senior Pastor of our church. That appointment begins in July.
Many of you know Geoffrey, but some of you may not. There will be many opportunities for you to meet our new pastor, beginning in July, but until then I wanted to share with you a short biography about Dr. Lentz as a way for you to get to know him a little better.
Geoffrey is no stranger to our community and to our church. He was born and raised in Pensacola and attended First Church as a child. It was at First Church, at the age of 5, where he told his mother that one day he wanted to be a preacher just like Preacher Henry.
After high school Geoffrey attended the University of West Florida where he earned his Bachelor of Science in Psychology. While at UWF he met Liz Milnes and the two were later married. After graduating from UWF, Geoffrey and Liz moved to Durham, North Carolina where Geoffrey attended Duke University pursuing a Masters of Divinity degree. While at Duke, the two welcomed their first child Luke Wesley.
Geoffrey’s first appointment after Duke was to First Church. He served as our associate and executive pastor from 2005 – 2012. During this time Geoffrey had the opportunity to work under and learn from Dr. Roberts, and then Dr. Wachob, both of whom he counts as mentors. Geoffrey was instrumental in the capital campaign to purchase Wesley Abbey and founded the ICON service which he preached at weekly. It was also during this time that Geoffrey and Liz welcomed their second child, Eliza Jane, and completed his Doctorate in Ministry from Drew University.
In 2013 Geoffrey was appointed as Senior Pastor of First United Methodist Church of Port St. Joe. During his time in Port St. Joe Geoffrey led the church through a period of growth, building, and rebuilding. In 2018 the church dedicated a new multi-use space which overlooks St. Joseph Bay. Little did anyone know that only six months later a direct hit from Hurricane Michael, a category 5 storm, would push the waters of St. Joseph Bay into the church destroying everything in its path including the sanctuary, educational buildings, and even his home. Following the storm, Geoffrey led the community rebuilding effort, coordinating with the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) and FEMA to begin the process of rebuilding.
In the midst of storm recovery, and then during the pandemic, First Church of Port St Joe continued to minister in new ways. To address food insecurity in their community, the church established the Two Fish Food Market, which is now the largest food pantry in Gulf County.
In addition to ministering to the communities he has served on a local level, Geoffrey is also involved and supportive of the work of our Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church. He serves on various boards, including the Board of Ordained Ministry, and is committed to our conference partnership with the church in Tanzania.
We are excited to welcome Geoffrey and his family back to First Church. I hope you will make plans to attend Dr. Lentz’s first Sunday with us as Senior Pastor on July 10th. We will have two services that Sunday in the Main Sanctuary at 8:30 and 11:00am. I look forward to seeing you then.