Laidley's new minister on mission to modernise
REVEREND Sharene Fechner is different to your usual church minister.
For one, she's a former cheerleader and Commissioned Officer in the Australian Air Force.
Another difference is you won't find her nagging you to go to church.
Ms Fechner has recently taken up residence at Laidley's Uniting Church and intends to bring a fresh outlook to the ministry.
"I want to give people a different perspective on how they can find God for themselves rather than just rocking up to a church,” she said.
"My theory is to get people to find the truth in their own timing and on neutral ground, so not necessarily here in a church building.”
It's an unconventional theory which fits the unconventional minister, as Ms Fechner's own journey into Christianity was far from orthodox.
"I suffered from depression and anxiety from my late teens into my early 20s and that was a really, really rough time,” she said.
"So I went on this journey searching for something, (thinking) there has to be something better than this.”
The young woman's quest for life's meaning took her in and out of a variety of churches though no particular congregation captured her attention.
A spontaneous decision to enrol in a course in theology brought Ms Fechner to delve into an exploration of religion and, with the help of her air force employers, brought her to her posting at Laidley.
"I got this sense God was saying to me 'I couldn't get your attention by going to church, so I'm going to entice you another way',” she said.
This realisation is at the heart of Ms Fechner's modern approach but that's not to say she rejects traditional elements of church either.
"There is a significant amount of older generational people in every church in every denomination and they grew up worshipping in a certain style, with the old hymns and organs and they do like it that way,” she said.
"You can't just say to people 'Well too bad, we're getting rid of all the old stuff' because it has a lot of meaning to those people, and although a lot of those things are just symbolic, it assists them in their worship.
"But there is a massive generation gap - we have no young people coming through church and I understand why.
"So my compromise would be to have a contemporary church service as well as a traditional service to cater for both those people.
"God doesn't really care how you worship Him, as long as you're doing it from the heart.”
Ultimately, the mother-of-three said being a good Christian shouldn't come down to how regularly you kneel in a wooden pew.
"We should love each other and to be in a community where people are continually helping each other,” she said.
"We should be continually trying to find ways to assist others and show them our love and care.
"That, to me, is more what church is about rather than sitting in a building on Sunday morning.”