REV. Dr. Brian Fletcher and his wife, Rosemary, have received a warm welcome from everyone at Cullybackey Methodist Church as they begin their Ministry there.
They arrive in the County Antrim village following a 12-year stint at Cregagh Road Methodist Church in Belfast in look forward to an equally fruitful time in our own area.
60-year-old Brian is originally from Filterbeds, a townland between Lisburn and Glenavy. He and Rosemary have two grown-up children; Timothy, who works as an Orthopaedic Registrar in Perth, Australia and Rebekah, a Speech & Language Therapist, now living in Belfast.
Brian’s personal journey to Christ began when he was a young child. Explaining more, Dr. Fletcher reveals: “As a ten-year-old I had a very real experience in a little mission hall, which was run by the Presbyterian Church in an area called the Tansey. That’s where I came to experience Christ and was nurtured in the early days. There were recommitments, and I am very grateful to the Faith Mission for the onward growth in my life at that time.”
Looking back now, Brian believes that God began to prepare him for the Ministry in his mid-teens. Although he worked as a Laboratory Technician at Queen’s University after leaving school, it was only a few years before the Lord turned his attention to theological training.
This was undertaken at Emmanuel College in Birkenhead, where he met his wife, Rosemary, who hails originally from England, and at Edinburgh University.
Together, they have since served God at various congregations north and south of the border, and recall ‘many challenges and blessings in them all.’
They spent over a decade on the Cregagh Road and saw God at work there in many different ways.
Recalls Brian: “Some conferences back, we in the Methodist Church suggested that if for the sake of mission a length of time could be extended then that should be done. I was probably one of the first to be invited to stay on because of the mission in the Church at that particular time.”
“We were reaching out into the community and in the process of refurbishing our premises to suit those needs. There was a sense of mission and communication, and there was a general feeling within the fellowship of the church at Cregagh that it was right for us to stay, and the leadership of the wider Methodist church agreed.”
Another highlight of Brian’s ministry to date was being elected to serve as President of the Methodist Church in Ireland from 2004-05.
Recalling what was a ‘challenging and exciting year’, he added: “You meet a lot of people that you wouldn’t meet ordinarily and you get an overall picture of the state of the Church as you go to other parts of the world. I was privileged to be in Sri Lanka, USA, Singapore and Australia and I saw different aspects of Church life at that time.”
“It does broaden your horizons and give you an overall picture. I remember my counterpart in the Presbyterian Church, Revd. Ken Newell, likening ministry to being down a burrow hole. He suggested that like rabbit down a burrow hole you can be familiar with what is going on in your own surroundings but when you come up out of them you get a much broader perspective”, continues Brian.
As someone who describes himself as a ‘preacher and pastor’ at heart, Brian understandably found it difficult to say goodbye to the Cregagh Road fellowship.