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Dennis Fletcher adds levity to ministry via ‘Lighter Side’

MONROE CITY, Mo. (BP)–Dennis Fletcher’s humorous take on the ministry is the latest addition to the Baptist Press “Lighter Side” cartoon lineup.

His cartoon, “Fletch,” joins “Beyond the Ark,” “Brother Blooper” and others on the site intended to give readers a chuckle related to matters of faith.

“Most of my cartoons up to this point are about pastors and the church, and I think if there’s ever a group of people that need a little humor, it’s them,” Fletcher told Baptist Press. “From my experience as a lay pastor I know it’s such an emotionally draining job because you’re a teacher and you’re trying to preach but you’re also pastoring people, and they really need to see the funny side sometimes.”

Fletcher, 47, grew up in Hannibal, Mo., and said he cannot remember a time when he wasn’t drawing or doodling.

“From an early age I had a dream that someday I would be a professional cartoonist, and I’m still working toward that,” he said.

He spent 17 years in the hardware business and some time in advertising, and now Fletcher is a freelance public relations writer and cartoonist. For the past eight years, he was a lay pastor at a small-town Presbyterian church in Missouri, and he recently resigned from the position to pursue other ways God might use him.

“Always behind the other jobs there was a dream that someday I’d be making a living as a cartoonist,” he said. “I’ve gotten real close. This is the closest in my life that I’ve ever been there. Of course, as a Christian man I’ve yielded the future to Christ and whatever He wants me to do, and if it doesn’t include cartooning, that’s fine. But I really feel like the doors are opening in that direction.”

Fletcher said he gets most of his ideas for cartoons by looking through church-related magazines and thinking about what people are talking about. An idea about evangelism or an incident with a pastor might lead to an illustration.

“I’ll get a phrase or something and it will trigger something in my mind and I’ll work toward that,” he said. “That’s the way I write, and it seems to work for me.

“One time, I was at a lady’s house visiting while I was a pastor, and I was always a good teacher and preacher but the pastoral stuff just wasn’t my stuff,” Fletcher added. “But I was doing this visitation, which I was never good at, and the phone rings and this little old lady answers the phone and she says, ‘Guess who’s at my house. The pastor, Dennis. Yes! Of course it’s him, he’s sitting right here.’ So I kind of made it into a cartoon because it was so unbelievable that I’d even be there.”

The late Charles Schultz is a cartoonist Fletcher has long admired because the creator of “Peanuts” had an impact on him that transcended humor.

“I like him not just because of his work but because of who he was. He was kind of my personality — kind of quiet, kind of shy,” Fletcher said. “He was a very dignified, very honorable Christian man, and I always respected that. Even if he wasn’t a cartoonist, I respected him as a person and I always looked up to him. He was never a braggart, he was never pompous or anything like that. He was always just a cartoonist, and I always liked that about him.”

Fletcher said he considers his drawing abilities a gift from God because it’s something he has always been able to do easily.

“People say, ‘How do you do it?’ and I say, ‘I don’t know. They just come out of my pen.’”

But on a serious note, he takes the opportunity seriously because he considers cartooning a calling.

“It’s fun to do and I love to do it, but it’s really quite a ministry,” he said. “We all need to laugh at ourselves once in a while. Sometimes as pastors we do take ourselves way too seriously, and we need to see the humor in that.”

Some publications that have featured “Fletch” include “The Leadership Journal,” “Your Church,” “Today’s Christian,” “Presbyterians Today,” “The Clergy Journal” and “The Lutheran.”

Fletcher and his wife of 20 years, Debbie, live in Monroe City, Mo.
See “Fletch” at www.bpnews.net/bpcartoons.asp.

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  • Erin Roach