When I think about Lori Raible, I think about how fortunate I am to have met her. She is an inspiration to so many, in and out of church. Listening to her sermons at Selwyn Avenue Presbyterian Church is like listening to music that has the power to stir your thoughts and emotions. Her words grip you, sometimes gently and other times so powerfully that they stay with you for well after the service. Her heart and soul uninhibitedly presents themselves to everyone she meets. Enjoy getting to know Lori!
Smarty Mom: Lori Raible
Children: Joe (10) and Maeve (8)
Married to: Rob
Years in Charlotte: 13 years.
Hometown: Salem, Virginia
Alma Mater: Wake Forest University
Occupation: I am a minister at Selwyn Avenue Presbyterian Church.
It’s not everyday you meet a pastor, tell us a about your journey.
I wish I could say that the path to ordained ministry was an easy one to find, but for me, it was not. I had no real interest in being a minister. Prior to seminary, I was a brewery representative for The Boston Beer Company and then the Miller Brewing Company. After I met my husband, Rob, we moved to Charlotte for his job, and begrudgingly I entered seminary. My fear was that seminary would in some way offensively shove ‘God’ into a box, as an attempt to contain a radically inclusive and forgiving God. Immediately Union Presbyterian Seminary proved me wrong, and I have not looked back.
Writing sermons must be challenging. What inspires you?
Writing is a part of who I am, but writing sermons may be of of my greatest vocational pleasure. Sermons are wonky things to write, but every good sermon is born from a part of scripture. It’s a living breathing thing, between the speaker and the hearer. Each word considers the listeners I love in the pews, and their stories of truth. I trust them and I trust God, so I feel compelled to be honest and direct. Come visit anytime. www.selwynpres.org
Any routines before delivering a sermon on a Sunday morning?
Lay out the kids clothes for church. Make sure I HAVE the sermon in my bag. Run to Starbucks for a Grande Pikes, and say a little prayer.
What organizations are you involved with?
Most of what I am involved with is connected to the church. Selwyn Avenue loves Freedom School Partners, Urban Ministries, and Habitat for Humanity. I am heavily involved with NEXT Church, which is a national movement within our denomination (PCUSA), committed to equipping and connecting leaders for the future church. Churches in Charlotte are still vibrant and growing, I am interested in harnessing our collective power and voices for some real social change in Charlotte. Most on my mind is the conversation of equitable education for our children and families. We have an amazing city with creative and committed leaders, its time to get this right for EVERY child. Not just those of who live in the right zip codes.
What do your kids think about your job?
Having tried to stay at home with two babies, that latest about 4 minutes. I strongly believe I am a better Mom for working. The kids are pretty understanding about the demands of my work, and we have special toys and books in my office for the times they are hanging out with me. Honestly our members and my colleagues are very loving toward them. When Maeve cuddles up by my knees during the children’s sermon, it feels pretty good. I get the sense that she is glad for what I do, but ask me again when she is 13.
How do you carve out family time?
That’s funny. Like most families, we are not always very good at balancing. I love my job and the church I serve, as an extension of who I am, so creating boundaries is important to the health of family. We enjoy Sunday brunch and dinners at the table as often as possible. My husband, Rob, loves to ride with me in the mornings when I drop the kids of at school, and we try to steal a lunch date at least once a week.
Any furry family members? Fay, a Yorkie, is 8 pounds of fury. I swore I would NEVER have a yipper dog, but she brings the four of us great joy. Last year we lost her for two days, and that was when I realized how important she was to our family. We found her TWO days later in our ATTIC!
What do you do to stay in shape?
I have been a runner since I was 10 years old. Running is a spiritual discipline for me at this point. I run to stay healthy, but mostly I run to stay sane.
You love to travel. Any recommendations?
I’ve had wander lust from an early age. My favorite travel partner is my grandmother, and we have had some wild adventures, but for many years I was an International Partner with Habitat for Humanity. The Global Village Program of Habitat leads short term trips all over the world. Anyone can join. Consider it a Vacation with a Purpose.
Favorite children’s prayer book?
I struggle to find Children’s prayer books that I like, but Todd Parr writes a series of very fun books with bright colors and important inclusive messages God’s love. The Family Book, and The Peace Book are two of my favorites.
Favorite book that you have read? Our congregation is reading Atul Gawande’s book on medicine, faith, and mortality, Being Mortal. A powerful book for our culture and our families.
You are an amazing writer. Any blogs out there? Me? My blog? I love to write as much as I love to run, but the writing gets squeezed by real life. I have a few pieces on my blog, www.loriraible.com. After sharing it, I suppose I’ll get my fingers typing.
Favorite indulgence? Oh, beautiful shoes. And French Fries.
Do pastors ever curse? Hell no.
Anything else that you would like to add?
I have found that many women in the midst of managing households, careers, children, and relationships find ourselves feeling depleted and isolated. Instead of giving thanks for the goodness of the day, as we lay our heads on the pillow at night we admonish ourselves for not completing the list or doing everything perfectly. There is great risk in assuming we are God. Invest in friendships that are life-giving and honest, and find a community that will include and love you. We aren’t meant to go it alone.