President Search

Summer Greetings in the Name of Jesus Christ!

After 15 years of faithful and transformative leadership, The Board of Trustees of Union Presbyterian Seminary accepted Dr. Brian K. Blount’s heartfelt step toward retirement effective June 30th, 2023. With an abundance of gratitude and hope, a Presidential Search Committee was formed. The appointed members of the Presidential Search Committee represent a diversity of experience across two campuses, generations, gender, race, vocation, and ecumenism.  We also share a deep commitment to the integrity and future of Union Presbyterian Seminary.

Union Presbyterian Seminary equips people in the ways of Jesus to witness, teach, and live into the movement of God’s Reign through their ministry in the church and world—a sacred vocation that requires deep learning, commitment to service, and an ability to read cultures and circumstances in the light of the rich resources of Scripture and theological tradition.

In these early weeks, we have been praying, preparing, and organizing ourselves for the work of mutual discernment and decision making. Soon we will invite nominations for a gifted leader to inspire and guide our robust seminary, but first our search committee is poised to listen. Within the month of July, virtual listening sessions will be held for faculty, staff, students, and Alumni.

On behalf of the entire search committee, we covet your prayers and invite you to reach out with your thoughts, hopes, and concerns. Occasional updates regarding our process and progress will provided here.  Thank you for your trust and solidarity.

As the Psalmist states, ‘I bless the Lord, who gives me counsel; in the night also my heart instructs me. I keep the Lord always before me; because the Lord is at my right hand, I shall not be moved… You show me the path of life, in your presence there is fullness of joy… (Psalm 16).

May God show us the path,

Rev. Lori Archer Raible

Dr. Steve Allred


Search Committee

*Dr. Steve Allred, Co-Chair. Elder, Second Presbyterian Church Richmond, VA. Steve is a University Professor in the School of Law at the University of Richmond. He previously served as Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs at UR, and as Executive Associate Provost at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He is an experienced university administrator who has also taught and practiced employment law for more than three decades. He holds degrees from The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Catholic University, and The University of Pennsylvania. He and his wife Julia have both served as Elders at University Presbyterian Church in Chapel Hill and at Second Presbyterian Church in Richmond. They have two grown children, James and Meredith. Steve began his term on the Board of Trustees in 2019. Most recently he has served on the Accreditation team and as the Chair of Academic Affairs.

*Rev. Lori Archer Raible, Co-Chair. Pastor, Selwyn Avenue Presbyterian Church Charlotte, NC. Lori received her M.Div. from Union Presbyterian Seminary in Charlotte in 2006 and was ordained in 2009. Lori graduated from Wake Forest University and then pursued a career in sales. Until 2020, Lori was active in the leadership of the movement in the PCUSA, NEXT Church.  Lori seeks to connect and equip leaders within the PCUSA by supporting the newly ordained in a variety of ways. Lori also enjoys writing, preaching and leading retreats and conferences for various publications and organizations. In Charlotte, Lori actively pursues broad-based community organizing for social justice. As a graduate of UPSEM Charlotte, Lori began her term on the Board of Trustees as an Alumni Representative in 2017, then as a Trustee in 2019. She has served within the Academic Affairs and Business and Finance committees. She also serves on the Center for Social Justice Advisory Board in Charlotte. Most recently Lori led a task force regarding leadership transitions across UPSEM’s two campuses.

Rev. Elizabeth McNair Ayscue, Honorably Retired in Montreat, NC.  Elizabeth is now honorably retired after serving for many years as the Senior Minister of First Presbyterian Church, Albemarle, NC. Born in Laurinburg, North Carolina, she attended Peace College and graduated cum laude from UNCG. She received her Master of Arts degree from the Presbyterian School of Christian Education in Richmond, Virginia, and her Master of Divinity degree from Union Theological Seminary. She served as senior minister at Clifton Presbyterian Church in Maxwelton, West Virginia from August 1995 until July 2002. Prior to that, she was associate pastor at Maxwell Street Presbyterian Church in Lexington, Kentucky, from 1990-1995. She is married to Austin (“Skeet”), a native of Henderson, North Carolina. They have two children, Rebekah and Spencer. Elizabeth began her term on the Board of Trustees in 2015. She was Vice-Chair of the Board in 2019-2020 and currently serves on the Committee for Community Life.

Rev. Dr. Peter M. Wherry, Pastor, Mayfield Memorial Missionary Baptist Church Charlotte, NC. Peter is  a native of Buffalo, NY, is a 42-year veteran Christian Servant Leader. Since January, 2007, Peter has been Senior Pastor of the Mayfield Memorial Missionary Baptist Church of Charlotte, NC. He has served with distinction, churches in both rural and urban settings. He enjoys membership in numerous Interfaith organizations. He is a full member of the Academy of Homiletics and is a published author in the area of homiletics. Dr. Wherry is an accomplished servant leader in the non- profit arena, serving on numerous boards and committees. For 41 years, he has been happily married to the beautiful and brilliant Dr. Wanda H. Wherry, and the Wherry’s are the grateful parents of two adult children (Justin [Amy] and Bethany). The Wherrys are also the gleeful grandparents of three, (Amari, 20, Amaya, 7, and Michael, 6). Peter earned his Master of Divinity degree from the Samuel DeWitt Proctor School of Theology and  Virginia Union both in Richmond, VA.Peter began his term on the Board of Trustees in November 2021.

Shell K. Berry, Elder, Reid Memorial Presbyterian Church Augusta, Ga. Shell is the President and CEO of the Community Foundation for the CSRA. Shell has professional skills in non-profit management, finance, and business; however, it is her passion and vision for her community that makes her work for the Community Foundation impactful. Her professional background includes development for the Atlanta Ballet, investment banking for Banc of America Securities, and ownership of a retail business. She has served her community through significant volunteer and leadership roles throughout her adult life.  Shell was a member of the Leadership Augusta Class of 2018, and the Leadership Georgia Class of 2011. She has a BA in communications from Wake Forest University and a Masters of Management from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. She lives in Augusta, Georgia with her husband, Reab Berry, Jr., and their three kids. Shell began her term on the Board of Trustees in November 2021. As a Trustee, Shell serves on the Business and Finance Committee.

Rev. Dr. Matthew Rich, Pastor, Unity Presbyterian Church Fort Mill, SC. Rich is the Pastor and Head of Staff at Unity Presbyterian Church in Fort Mill, SC. He was formerly Pastor of Reid Memorial Presbyterian Church, Augusta, GA where he served since June 2013. Before being called to Augusta, Matt served as pastor of congregations in Pageland, SC, Lowell, NC, and Lumberton, NC. Matt received his AB in Religion from Davidson College, his M.Div. from Union-PSCE and his D.Min from Pittsburgh Theological Seminary. Beyond Reid Memorial Presbyterian Church, Matt serves on the Union Presbyterian Seminary at Charlotte Dean’s Advisory Council, and The Presbyterian Outlook Board of Directors as chair of the Finance and Personnel Committee. Matt is married to Sarah, an attorney, and they have three children. Matt began his term on the Board of Trustees in 2015. As Trustee Matt serves on the Advancement and Trusteeship committees and has served on a variety of other committees and task forces throughout his tenure.

Rev. Dr. Frances Taylor Gench, Faculty. Frances is Herbert Worth and Annie H. Jackson Professor of Biblical Interpretation (Richmond campus). Prior to joining the Union faculty in 1999, she taught for 13 years at Gettysburg Lutheran Seminary (Pennsylvania). She is a graduate of Davidson College and an alumna of Union Theological Seminary in Virginia (now Union Presbyterian Seminary; M.Div., Ph.D.). She served as a member of the PC(USA) General Assembly’s Theological Task Force on Peace, Unity, and Purity of the Church (2001-2006), and for many years as a parish associate at The New York Avenue Presbyterian Church in Washington, D.C.

Ryan G. Atkinson, Interim Student Pastor, Quail Hollow Presbyterian Church Charlotte, NC. Ryan is a native of Shelby, NC and entering his fourth year at Union—Charlotte. Before seminary, Ryan graduated with a B.A. in Interdisciplinary Studies with a minor in electronics design from The North Carolina A&T State University in Greensboro, NC. After graduation, Ryan married his college sweetheart Kasey, and accepted a job with Duke Energy, and moved to Charlotte. As a full-time student at Union, Ryan continues his in-depth research efforts at the intersection of anti-racism, church history, worship, and multi-culturalism where three other classmates and Ryan were awarded fellowships with The Center for Social Justice and Reconciliation.