Our Church Team

New Life is an elder led, staff driven church that is fully committed to making disciples of Jesus in our city and around the world.

8. Chris Dillon - DSC03637

Chris Dillon - Lead Pastor

Chris grew up as an MK (missionary kid) in South America, served as a missionary with his wife, Cheryl, in Southeast Asia and later as a pastor of missions and discipleship for nearly 8 years before coming to New Life in 2017. Chris and Cheryl are both graduates of Gardner-Webb University where they met and fell in love. Soon after graduating, they married and moved to Wake Forest, NC where Chris earned his Master of Divinity degree from Southeastern Seminary.

Chris is devoted to seeing people learn to passionately love Jesus and others well–here in Asheville and around the globe. He's convinced that the local church is God's chosen vehicle to take the hope-filled and life-giving message of Jesus to our neighborhoods, city and world.

They have three lovely children and enjoy the great outdoors, exotic cuisines, good coffee and SEC football together as a family.

4. Mark Carlson - DSC03496

Mark Carlson - Executive Pastor

Life in a “nutshell.” My earlier years were in Florida completing BSBA and M.Ed. degrees, serving as an Army officer, building homes and finally and most enjoyably serving the King and helping others build solid faith foundations. There’s never a dull moment with my wonderful and patient wife of 49 years (Brenda), 2 grown children and 3 grands. I find the ocean enormously regenerating whether there’s a fish on the line or not. I have been on mission with New Life since 1997and especially treasure the opportunity to take adventures in discipleship with men and help them grow in their passion for God and love for others.

1. Jonathan Jones - DSC03613

Jonathan Jones - Connections Pastor

Jonathan grew up in North Carolina and after graduating Southwestern seminary served in Salt Lake City as a missionary with the North American Mission Board. During his time out west he served as a church planter, community pastor and non-profit director for 10 years before moving to Asheville.

He’s married to Christy and has two beautiful daughters named Taylor and Sydney. He has a passion for helping people work out a messy life and faith and in his free time enjoys hiking with his family and Shelby the wonder dog.

11. Rodney Smith - DSC03859

Rodney Howell - Local & Global Outreach Pastor

Rodney grew up in Florida and has enjoyed opportunities in business consulting, overseas ministry, and serving the local church. He is married to Keri and they have a son and daughter, Silas and Elise. They joined New Life in 2019 and are excited to join the mission of the church in Asheville and extending around the world!

10. Mike Watkins - DSC03997

Mike Watkins - Worship Pastor

Mike is married to Angelica and together they have four beautiful children. Prior to joining the team at New Life, Mike served for seven years as a worship pastor in Las Vegas. Before entering full time ministry, Mike spent 10 years as Music Director for The Second City & worked in theatre as music director for countless musicals/workshops.

Mike’s CD, Songs For The Weary, is available on iTunes. In his free time, Mike likes to tend to his animals, build stuff, play with his kids, and kayak in the rain with his wife.

22. Edyn Parsons

Edyn Parsons - Worship Ministry Assistant/Director of Communications

Edyn moved to North Carolina with her family in August of 2018. She became involved in the student ministry as a sophomore in high school and served in the student band ministry. She eventually became a part of the Emerging Leaders Program under the Worship Pastor from 2021-2022. She is so excited to be back on the team! Edyn loves laughing and goofing around with her friends and family and the College Ministry. Edyn is passionate about leading people to experience an awe of Christ and a deepened relationship with Him through worship.

3. Amber Black - DSC03567

amber black - Kids Ministry Director

Amber was born and raised in this community. She is married to Brian and together they have four children. Amber, Brian, and the kiddos still at home enjoy traveling, playing games, watching movies, trying new foods, and attempting to tame their dog. They love serving together and having their lives open to people who need an ear to hear, a shoulder to lean on, a hug to hold them. Amber makes it a personal goal to remind every person she works with that they were created on purpose, with a purpose and for a purpose. She loves helping children and families connect the experiences of their lives with the presence of the God who created them and loves them!

7. Allen Ebert - DSC03533

Allen Ebert - Student Pastor

Allen grew up in Western North Carolina. He and his wife Leslie have two boys, Nixon (5), and Gavyn (15). Allen has served in children’s and student ministry for the past 7 years and just joined the New Life staff family. He is excited about serving middle and high school students and building relationships with families. Allen is passionate about relational discipleship and helping others grow in their love for Jesus and neighbor.

12. Stephanie Gilfoyle - DSC03883

Stephanie Guilfoyle - Next Generation Ministry Administrative Assistant

Stephanie was born and raised in Buncombe County and graduated from UNC-Asheville with a BS in Industrial Engineering Management, minoring in Mathematics. She worked in the corporate world for 16 years until being called to serve the Lord. She now splits her time between New Life Kids Church and Preschool Ministries, serving as New Life's Childcare Coordinator, volunteering and raising two children with her husband James.

She was first invited to New Life in 2009 and has made it her church home since. After being fed by many of our loving church members, she now feels privileged to be able to facilitate the spiritual growth of our future generations as part of the New Life staff. She has a passion for cleaning, organizing, watching movies and reading in what little spare time remains

5. Krysten Blanton - DSC04009

Krysten Blanton - Kids Ministry Assistant

Krysten was born and raised is Western North Carolina. She was in the banking industry for 10 years before transitioning to a full-time stay at home mom in 2021.  Krysten has attended New Life since January of 2017.  She joins our staff with 12 years of volunteer experience in both preschool and kids ministries.

Krysten has a passion for helping children learn scripture and experience God's love. Krysten is married to Christopher and they have one daughter. She enjoys spending time with her family, camping, reading, crafting, and watching sports (Go Dawgs!).

6. Sheryl Staff - DSC03478

Sheryl Shaff - Administrative Assistant

Sheryl joined the staff of New Life Community Church in January of 2006. Sheryl brings with her many years of administrative experience. Sheryl and her husband Bryan moved to Asheville from Traverse City, Michigan in 2002 and have been members of New Life Community Church since 2003. They have been married 43 years and have two sons. Scott, Morgen & grandchildren Greyson & Everly live in Denver, CO. Youngest son Keith, Morgan and granddaughter Raegan live in Charleston, SC. In her free time she enjoys hiking, reading, chasing chickens and spoiling their dog Ansley.

9. Leslie McCreary - DSC03927

leslie mccreary - Finance Director

Leslie was born and raised in Buncombe County and loves having the views of the mountains in her sight every day! Leslie started her career working in non-profit accounting with a school foundation until asked to come work at a historic church in downtown Asheville; she never looked back. She has many years of church finance experience and loves being able to apply her talents in a church setting. She currently provides the accounting services to multiple churches and stays very busy and challenged!

She is married to her husband Larry, they have two sweet kids, Mattie Grace and Liam. Leslie enjoys spending time with her family, traveling, eating good food and the beach! She is happy to be working with the staff and church family of New Life!

21. Keri - DSC05568

Keri Howell - Women's Ministry Volunteer Leader

Keri is from Richmond, VA, and is married to Rodney. They have two awesome kids, Silas and Elise, and love spending time together as a family.  Keri served overseas in Vienna, Austria, before moving to Dallas/Ft Worth, TX to pursue her masters in Linguistics and TESOL.  It was there she met Rodney and the rest is history!  She enjoys reading, gardening, crafting, traveling and being outside.

She also won’t pass up a really good cup of coffee. Keri loves serving in the local church, especially equipping and encouraging women.  She is passionate about women knowing and loving God’s word, and doing that in community with one another.

2. Olivia Parsons - DSC03549

Olivia Parsons - Student Ministry Intern

Olivia was born and raised in West Virginia, and moved to North Carolina in the summer of 2018. She enjoys art, reading, and spending quality time with her family and friends. Olivia’s goal is to live a life fully devoted to God and his ways, and to show Gods love to those around her on a daily basis.

Within the student ministry, she has been actively serving since 2020 and desires to build a strong community and family with all the students that walk through the doors.

New Life Elders

8. Chris Dillon - DSC03637


14. Steve Spurrier - DSC03694


19. Chris Meyer - DSC03838


4. Mark Carlson - DSC03496


17. Joshua Bradshaw - DSC03951


20. Ralph Bradshaw - DSC05561


13. Steve Harris - DSC03835


16. Tyler Ross - DSC03661


15. Terry Schmidt - DSC03752