Humans of the Uniting Church
May 9, 2023
This year, we’re excited to be featuring some of the inspirational people who make up the Uniting Church. Check out the growing hub of stories here.
If you know of someone with a great story to tell, contact us and nominate them to be featured.
This week we meet Sydney-based singer-songwriter Rachel Collis. Originally a classically trained pianist, Rachel was awarded a Masters Of Music in Composition in 2012 and has released four studio albums.
"Within the Uniting Church I found a safe haven for exploring doubts"
What’s your Uniting Church story?
My faith background is very conservative, but my sense of certainty and of having all the right answers to every question started to dissolve in my twenties, so I found myself knocking on the door of the Uniting Church.
Throughout my twenties and into my thirties I pulled further at each thread of doubt until precious little of the old faith of my youth remained. To be frank, it was a scary journey, particularly as someone who’d always prided myself in being the “good Christian girl”.
But within the Uniting Church I found a safe haven for exploring doubts, and a community of people who defined faith differently to how I’d understood it. In time a new faith emerged within me. Something deeper, richer, and more mystic. A faith that is defined primarily by how we treat others.
What enlivens your faith?
Nature. And stillness. When I can (and when I desperately feel the need to) I’ll drive down to a nature reserve near my house. Midweek, there’s not a soul in sight, and I find it incredibly healing to just sit.
I hate the busyness of life. Over time I lose myself in it and my sense of who I am. The lockdown was wonderful for me spiritually (although I recognise it was extremely challenging for others!)
What’s one thing happening in your community (or your music) that’s really exciting for you?
This year I’ll be contributing a song to an album by Uniting Creative which will be released in September for use by congregations. I’ve always written songs just for me to perform. My faith shows up from time to time in the lyrics, but I’ve never really set out to write faith-based music, and never congregational music.
Writing something for others to sing has not only been an exciting new challenge, but I’ve also relished the opportunity to write songs for people whose faith looks like mine does now. There’s an abundance of songs for churches that reflect what my faith looked like when I was 20, but precious few that I relate to now. I intend to write more!
What’s one thing you love telling people about the UCA?
I love telling people that the Uniting Church is different from what they may have experienced of church. That it’s inclusive and affirming, and that it’s open and progressive in its thinking and theology.
What’s one thing you’d like to change, or something you hope for?
I’d love to see the Uniting Church lead the way in our culture by becoming sustainable and carbon neutral in all its operations.
What's one thing you would like the rest of the Uniting Church to pray for?
That our country learns to welcome and embrace asylum seekers and refugees.
Rachel will be performing in Make Room, a fundraising concert for refugees at Pitt St Uniting Church on Sunday 4 June where all proceeds will go to the Asylum Seekers Centre (ASC) and Refugee Advice & Casework Service (RACS). Download the flyer.