Sherrie Morreal Gavin was born in upstate New York to Latter-day Saint parents, one of seven children. She attended Southern Utah University and then worked in Las Vegas and San Diego as a secretary by day and a community theater actor by night. After her short marriage to a fellow actor ended, Sherrie finished her degree in history at Southern Utah State University. An opportunity for an internship took her to Sydney, Australia when she was in her late twenties, where she met her husband Bruce. By this time, Sherrie knew that she would be unable to bear children, and Bruce was willing to adopt. Bruce converted to the Church shortly after they married.

Adjusting to Australia was difficult at times – she found it hard to connect with people in her Sydney ward and felt that not having children made it more difficult to establish friendships with other women. Bruce accepted a job in a remote part of Australia, and this meant that Sherrie was an hour away from the nearest branch. They often didn’t make it to church because the road was often closed, and she names this time as one of spiritual growth, as she learned to direct her own study of the gospel. She recounts that during those years, “I learned more about the lines of priesthood authority, and to serve others in my community in providing meals, etc. (Non-members express extreme gratitude for meals when they are not well!) Having your dining room turn into an ordinance room for the blessing of the sacrament is a sacred experience beyond words. It is the most spiritual experience we have ever shared as a family.”

Sherrie states that the Church has some challenges in Australia. First, missionary work is difficult as most Australians feel that they are already familiar with Jesus Christ. Second, disparity between the economic situations of Australian Latter-day Saints and Pasifika Latter-day Saints in the region means that there are a variety of needs, and it’s often difficult for regional church headquarters to meet all those needs. Third, she sees some American culture seeping into Australian church practice.

Sherrie now lives in Ballarat, Victoria, Australia, and is the mother of two daughters. She plans to resume her PhD program in historical masculinity studies once her children are older.

Sherrie Gavin