Thu | Mar 26, 2015

Dwight's road to Damascus

Published:Sunday | January 13, 2013
Dwight and Joan Fletcher, pastors of TLC - Photo by Gladstone Taylor/Photographer

Latoya Grindley, Staff Reporter

Using conventional ways to spread the Word of God is the mission that Transformed Life Church is on. Celebrating its first anniversary this month, the non-denominational church has grown from an initial size of 57 to 145 members and is positioning itself to captivate a lot more.

Headed by Pastor Dwight Fletcher and his wife, Joan, the church was formed on the premise that there are general needs that are not being addressed by many churches. Needs, they argued, that are deemed important to transforming one's life.

"We did our survey to find out from persons what they wanted in a church. We wanted to make sure that we were being relevant to them. And so how we deliver have incorporated these findings," noted Mrs Fletcher.

Being innovative and flexible are two prime ways in which the church has gone about reaching and spreading the biblical messages.

"We found that persons wanted more fellowship, they wanted to learn and understand scriptures more and how they can be applied to their lives. And so we can encourage persons to drop the mask and be themselves to allow the Lord to work through them."

Part of the church's programme is the use of applied services. The focus of these services are geared at using scriptures to reinforce and make applicable to people's lives.

"Once we had 'Getting Down to Business' where we preached and used scriptures which spoke about being business-minded and achieving goals. Through these series, we not only address spiritual life but we incorporate all facets of our lives," said Pastor Fletcher.

Describing his former life as one which was
of a typical Jamaican secular man, the reverend said prior to getting
saved, he was agnostic.

"I just thought persons became
Christians because they needed a crutch. In fact, I would always be the
one arguing with Christians," he noted.

His wife, on
the other hand, was more connected to Christianity. But her acceptance
and openness had to be altered due to her husband's views at the
time.

"I can tell you that I would not even feel
comfortable playing Christian music around him just because of how he
was," she quipped.

But the birth of their children,
Joel and Gabrielle, became the turning point at which the Fletchers felt
compelled to be affiliated with a church as a family. This led to their
official acceptance of the Superior Being.

"We wanted
to be associated with a church for our children. We just thought it
would give them a stronger moral base. And one Sunday at church, I had
an experience that could not be explained by logic. I thought I needed
to investigate," said Pastor Fletcher.

This
investigation which led to him attending Bible study and conducting his
own 'research' spiralled a change in his life. He and his wife, Joan,
got baptised at the same time.

It was certainly not an
easy transition for the two, especially for Pastor Fletcher who, in the
process, had many doubters who mocked his
decision.

"His friends were surprised. As a matter of
fact, some only gave him a day before he changed his mind. He even lost
friends," said Mrs Fletcher.

Going into full-time
ministry in 1998, Pastor Fletcher is a businessman with an engineering
background. His wife, an attorney-at-law, is the CEO of Toll
Authority.

With both having full-time jobs, the duo
said it is non-stop work.

"It can be a little
challenging to find time for your family when you have your official job
and a church. Because you find that your hours are longer as you are
involved in church activities, as well as you have to be counsellor and
adviser," highlighted Mrs Fletcher.

Trying to reach
out to the most 'troubled' generation, according to Pastor Fletcher, is
the prime objective of his church.

According to him,
Generation Y is perhaps the most disconnected from
churches.

"They are the most missing persons in the
Church. The Church doesn't speak their language. We are positioning
ourselves to speak to them. This generation has seen multiple divorces,
shootings and sense of
hopelessness."

Non-denominational, Transformed Life
Church welcomes all and promotes an atmosphere that is
non-judgemental.

"We are not going to be strict in the
traditional sense of the word. We are here to point people in the right
direction. We are primarily reaching a group that is not necessarily
facilitated in a denomination."

In doing things a lot
more contemporary and less rigid in order to attract persons to the
spiritual world, there are subtle shifts that are being
used.

"We have no problem with persons using
technology in church. They can use their iPads or phones to download
scriptures or even take notes. This generation is very suspicious of
institutions, of which the Church is one. So we are putting emphasis on
how people view the Church," noted Mrs
Fletcher.

Empowering his congregation is a must for
the pastor. In fact, this strategy has worked for members who have been
challenged to release suppressed gifts.

"We encourage
persons. Everyone carries a gift. And we empower everyone to operate
within their own fit."

As it relates to the activities
of churches and their involvement in the progress of Jamaica, Pastor
Fletcher insists that they are doing a lot but more can be
done.

"The Church is doing a lot. But once you are
doing something well there are some things can go unaddressed. The
Church needs to be more involved with legislation and justice for the
poor. The Church needs to talk about business and driving the
entrepreneurial spirit within their
congregation."

Transformed
Life Church is located at the Police Officers' Club, 34 Hope Road.
Telephone: 484-7780,
828-6274.

latoya.grindley@gleanerjm.com