Dwight's road to Damascus

Published: Sunday | January 13, 2013 Comments 0
Dwight and Joan Fletcher, pastors of TLC - Photo by Gladstone Taylor/Photographer
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

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