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.


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.


Mark Carlson - Executive Pastor

Mark is one of the “pioneers” who helped launch New Life in 1997. Originally from Florida where he completed degrees in Management (BSBA) and Psychology (M.Ed.), his life experiences include serving as an Army officer, commercial diver and General Contractor.

Married 42 years to Brenda, he has 2 grown children and 4 grandkids. Mark enjoys the ocean, surf fishing and conversations with people who have questions and curiosity about a life of faith. His great joy is engaging in 1:1 mentoring.


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.


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.


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!


Tim Wilgus - Children & Family Pastor

Tim grew up in Oregon where his family still resides. He came to the east coast to attend Liberty University. In 2006 he graduated with his Bachelor’s degree. A year later he married his wife, Amy and settled down in Lynchburg, Virginia. Tim continued his education and graduated in 2012 with his Master’s of Divinity in Leadership.

Before coming to New Life in 2019 he served in churches in Virginia and Pennsylvania. He enjoys serving the church in family ministry where kids are connected, parents are discipled and volunteers are valued. Some of his gifts include building relationships with families and potential leaders, developing others and maximizing technology to further the Gospel.

He enjoys spending time with his wife and five young children, Bennett, Caroline, Kate, Claire and Abigail. In his spare time he enjoys coffee, reading, spending time outside and making memories with his family.


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amber black - Preschool Ministry Director

Amber was born and raised in this community.   Amber loves utilizing her degrees in Sociology and Education: Family and Community Services.  Her education helped shape her thoughts, but her life experiences helped shape her heart.  Amber has worked in the educational world for twenty years in every role from volunteer to substitute teacher to assistant to small group teacher.  She has worked in a mega church and in a church plant in the roles of Children’s Director and Women’s Ministry Director.  Her favorite part of working with people is hearing their stories.

Amber 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.  The family has served together doing everything from block parties to movie nights to appreciation events.  They love to have 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 women connect the experiences of their lives with the presence of the God who created them and loves them.  Amber’s go-to Bible books to read are Psalms and Philippians.  She loves Jesus, loves people and loves to help with the connection between the two!


Stephanie Guilfoyle - family Ministry 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


Craig Walston - Youth Pastor

Craig has volunteered and worked with youth ministries for 14 years. He has been married for five years to Rachel Walston. Craig and his wife have twin boys named Caiden and Caleb and a daughter, Coraline.  They have a wonderful dog named Chewbarka. Craig’s passion in life is to share the gospel and provide a safe place for teenagers to grow in their relationship with God. He loves videogames, books (especially nerdy ones) and eating burritos.


Rachel Walston - Youth Ministry Assistant

Rachel was born and raised in Southern California. She moved to North Carolina in 2008 to attend Montreat College, where she graduated with a B.A. in English Literature in 2010. She started volunteering at New Life in 2009. Her passion is mentoring young people to have an authentic love for Jesus. She is married to Craig Walston with whom she has identical twin boys and a beautiful daughter. Rachel loves hiking, playing games with friends, and reading in her hammock.

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Serina Pennington - Finance Director

Serina is originally from Colorado. She completed her undergraduate degree in Accounting and has her Masters in Business from the University of Phoenix. She has been in the public, private, and governmental sectors in accounting & finance for 25+ years.

Even though originally from Colorado, she now considers herself a southerner, living in the Raleigh/Durham NC area for over 20 years. In December 2016 the family voted to move to Asheville due partly because of her love of the Mountains (God's country). She is devoted to helping others, people in need, and bringing them to Christ.

She and her husband Chris have three children, a daughter-in-law and, a dog named Bo. She loves being in the word, learning the guitar and Spanish, hiking on trails, turning a good pun, eating chocolate, drinking great coffee, making people feel special, hugging, being funny, and enjoying a great belly laugh.


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 39 years and have two sons. Scott, Morgen & grandchildren Greyson & Everly live in Denver, CO. Youngest son Keith and his wife Morgan live in England. In her free time she enjoys hiking, reading, chasing chickens and spoiling their dog Ansley.

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Edyn Parsons - Emerging Leaders Program - worship

Edyn grew up in West Virginia and moved to North Carolina with her family in 2018. She has always loved music and being involved at church with her youth group and praise band. She is always laughing and looking for ways to goof around with her friends and family. She is finding her identity in Christ every day and hoping to share her love for Jesus with the people around her through music and encouragement.

Emily criss - Emerging Leaders Program - youth

Emily is an Asheville native who enjoys spending time with her friends and family when not working. She is constantly learning new things about the life that Jesus has in store for her through worship, study, and community. Emily has a passion for sharing the love and life that Christ offers with others and desires to make as many people as possible feel loved through the church.

New LIfe Elders



















Steve Harris