Our People: Q&A with Rev. Malu Fairley-Collins

Board-certified chaplain, pastoral educator

To this board-certified chaplain and pastoral educator, nothing is more important than service, spirit, family — and a good book.

From her birth in Cincinnati, Ohio — known to residents as the Queen City — she’s come full circle to North Carolina’s very own QC, after traveling up and down the East Coast from Manhattan to Atlanta and points between. The Rev. Malu Fairley-Collins serves as co-pastor of Wedgewood Church, where she strives to ensure that its famous rainbow doors are open to all. At the same time, she holds the post of director of spiritual care and education for Carolinas Palliative Care and Hospice Group.

Here, Fairley-Collins shares with qnotes some of the causes, and the candies, closest to her heart.

What are you passionate about?

I am passionate about many things: equity, ethnic/racial justice, and the intersections of spirituality and sexuality are the top three.

What helps you relax when you’re feeling stressed?

Prayer/ mediation, music and creating something.

What cheers you up when you’re feeling down?

Spending silly time with my wife, reading a good book and dark chocolate (up to 70 percent).

Who knows every one of your secrets?

No one!! But my bestie Lisa J comes close.

How do you spend your free time?

What free time?!! I guess reading and spending time with my family.

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We’ve all heard that smell is the sense most strongly tied to memory. What scents do you find most evocative?

Hmmmmm, the smell my grandmother’s house used to have in the morning just after she cooked breakfast — it’s hard to describe. It included her scent, particular cleaning products, food and her house.

If you won a multi-million-dollar jackpot, what would you do with the money?

Pay off the school debts and housing debts of me and my family members. Secure college and start-up monies for my son and younger people in my family. Invest monies into good non-profit social justice organizations. Buy land for self and family. Secure Wedgewood finances and fix all the structural needs of the church. Create something or partner with others to create some queer, people of color, spirit-focused spaces.

Are you an early bird or a night owl?

Neither but more of an early bird because of my commute time and work hours.

What household chore do you avoid at all costs?

Taking out the trash and lawn care.

What possessions do you cherish most?

Pictures of my ancestors/family and my tablet since the series I’m reading is on there.

When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?

So many things — a doctor, a lawyer, a doula, a teacher for kids with Down syndrome, the founder of new philosophical school of thought.

If you could live in any time period, past or future, anywhere in the world, what would you choose?

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This is a hard one. As a black person, pre-colonialism and transatlantic slave trade, as a queer person and as a woman…I guess an indigenous matriarchal society in a warm climate.

What do you like most about yourself?

My heart/head balance.

What aspect of yourself would you like to change?

Learn to for real relax and do nothing.

You can read only five books for the rest of your life. Which do you choose?

Not a possible choice. The Bible would be one, but I love to read too much to choose.

Imagine traveling somewhere incredibly remote, with no way of contacting the outside world. Are you more thrilled or petrified?

Thrilled as long as I could return when I needed to.

If you met yourself, do you think you’d be your friend?

Yep!

What have you always wanted to do, be or learn, but never gotten around to?

To speak ASL and to be fluent in Spanish again, have a garden, take dance class to learn the bachata.

And finally, how would you like to be remembered?

As someone who shared my authentic love-light with others in ways that offered healing spaces and helped others be empowered to bring their love-light to the world as well.

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