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Rev. Pentz still busy after 50 years in ministry

September 09, 2002|by STACEY DANZUSO

chambersburg@herald-mail.com

WAYNESBORO, Pa. - The Rev. Croft Pentz jokingly boasts about his ability to speak two languages at once.

Although since he moved back to Waynesboro six years ago, Pentz hasn't had to lead many worship services in sign language.

"There is not much of a deaf population in the area," said Pentz, who celebrated 50 years in the ministry last month.

Pentz was born and raised in Waynesboro and returned to Franklin County to retire. His idea of retirement means working as a part-time pastor of senior adults and outreach ministry at Calvary Assembly of God in Waynesboro, plus serving as chaplain at Rose Manor Assisted Living Residence in Waynesboro, at Elder Day, in Waynesboro, and at the Falling Spring Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Chambersburg, Pa.

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"I can't picture myself on a Lazy-Boy chair," said Pentz, 71.

It was during his theological training at Central Bible College in Springfield, Mo., that Pentz learned sign language. After entering the ministry in 1952, he was stationed in Little Rock, Ark., for more than a year.

"My wife and I felt we didn't fit in and sent a letter to the national Assemblies of God headquarters requesting we go back East. The same day they got a letter from New York and New Jersey asking for a minister for the deaf," Pentz said.

Pentz embarked on a 42-year career of ministering to the deaf after the simultaneous arrival of those two letters.

He was founding pastor of the Calvary Chapel of the Deaf in Cranford, N.J., and served as the state director of the New Jersey Assemblies of God Deaf Ministry.

Pentz said his role made him closer to parishioners.

"You're personally involved," he said. "We would have to advise people when they are buying everything from a home to a car, or others would take advantage of them."

He said his late wife, Frances Pentz, was often in the maternity ward helping deaf women communicate with their doctors.

Pentz is one of only a small group of pastors who minister to the deaf, and that has afforded him many opportunities.

He served as an interpreter for the Billy Graham Crusades four times and traveled more than 1.5 million miles in 47 states to minister to the deaf.

"My 14th or 15th car is now on its last legs," he said.

For 13 years Pentz appeared on "The Evangel Hour," a New York City church program that aired in four states.

A two-page spread in "TV Guide" magazine in 1960 included a story about the program and a series of photos showing Pentz signing "The Lord is my sheep keeper."

He said there is a great need for ministers. In the Assembly of God churches alone, he said there are about 35 churches in need of a pastor that can minister to the deaf.

Pentz said he wound up back in Waynesboro after more than four decades away because the cost of living was too high in New Jersey to retire. His children and grandchildren live in New York and Connecticut, but seven of his eight brothers and sisters remained in the Waynesboro area.

"It is a much, much slower life here," he said. "I expect to stay here and keep busy as long as I have strength."

He said he is continuing to collect tidbits for possible future books. He has already had sermons and poetry published, as well as "The Complete Book of Zingers" and "1001 Things Your Mother Told You," which feature snappy advice like "God does allow U-turns."

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