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!


Pictured from right to left: Scott Angelo (Teaching); Emily Criss (Student Ministry Intern); Edyn Parsons (Worship Leader); Lindsey Hesselbirg (Admin Coordinator)


New Life Student Ministry Team

Our Student Ministry is currently being led by a Team that is deeply passionate to help teens know God, love him and be used by him to minister to others in their small circles. Each team leader brings specific gifting to the mix as well as a passion to love teenagers and lead them to a deeper relationship with Jesus.

Emily Criss came to New Life in 2020 and immediately began serving in the Student Ministry. After graduating High School, Emily began an intentional internship with New Life and is now helping with the Student Band, AV and coordinating activities. (Not to mention she has a great singing voice!)

Edyn Parsons has been involved in our Student Ministry since 2018. She came to us as a high school sophomore and got plugged into the Worship Team right away. She has since found her sweet spot as the Worship Team Leader and loves it. Getting to lead people to experience the love of worship is her passion and she is thankful to be part of a Team that loves to teach kids to follow Jesus and have crazy fun doing it.

View More: http://dominiquephillipsphotography.pass.us/lusso-realty-headshots

Scott Angelo - Student Ministry

Scott Angelo served previously in Student Ministry as well as with Young Adults. He has a bible degree from Grace University and his heart for students is to dig deep into God’s word and head for the “deep stuff.” He believes too many Student Ministries play “soft” to the students and it short sells them. He has a passion to have a lot of fun with the students while taking their study very seriously.


Lindsey Hesselbirg - Student Ministry

Lindsey Hesselbirg has been involved in Student Ministry for over 15 years and has a BA in Christian Leadership and a minor in Student Ministry. She has been involved with New Life for 3 years and continues to serve as a Small Group leader for our high schoolers.

Amber Staff Photo.001

amber black - Kids 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 - Kids 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


Amanda Griffin - Preschool Ministry Assistant

Amanda was born and raised in Woodfin, NC. She graduated from Mars Hill University in 2007 with a BS in Social Work and a minor in Psychology. Amanda splits her work time as a Social Worker & as the Preschool Ministry Assistant here at New Life.
Amanda has been married to her husband, Mark for 13 years. They live in Marshall, NC with their two children, Addison & Xander. She enjoys spending time with her family, organizing, reading, and helping others. Amanda and her family joined New Life in January 2020 and she joined the staff as Preschool Ministry Assistant in January 2022.


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


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 Staff Photo.002

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.

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!

New LIfe Elders



















Steve Harris