For a time Rawls lived in California, where she attended church while living life deep in the closet. She is a graduate of Duke University and Leadership Charlotte.
Bishop-Elect Rawls is the founding pastor of Unity Fellowship Church Charlotte and a member of the House of Bishops, of the Los Angeles-based Unity Fellowship Church Movement (UFCM). Bishop-Elect Rawls' rapidly growing church is the first of the denomination's churches to open in the Bible Belt of the United States.
Unity Fellowship Church Charlotte's various ministries touch areas as broad as domestic violence, praise arts, HIV/AIDS, literacy and wellness. She is a social, spiritual and criminal justice activist committed to the liberation of those who are on the margins of society. She has received numerous awards including the Equality Award from The Human Rights Campaign of The Carolinas and The Charlotte Business Guild's Don King Service Award.
She sits on the Faith Advisory Council of the DC-based National Black Justice Coalition; she is Vice President of the National Board of the Unity Fellowship Church Movement overseeing day-to-day operations; is co-founder of Charlotte-based Black Clergy United Against AIDS, is co-founder of People United For Education which advocated for urban youth in the Charlotte school system and is Founder of The Freedom Center for Social Justice.
Rawls is a noted national speaker and in April of 2008 was consecrated as one of the first women Bishops in the Unity Fellowship Church Movement's 25-year history.
She's acutely aware of the challenges gays and lesbians often face when coming to terms with their sexual orientation while attempting to maintain the spiritual life they've grown accustomed to.