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 - Community 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 and 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.


Heather Pott

Heather pott - Preschool Ministry Director

Heather has served in Preschool/Children's Minister for nearly 20 years. Heather and her husband, Jeff, came to Asheville in 1999 as full-time missionaries with Helps Ministries and Jeff continues to serve there as the Executive Director. Heather and Jeff live in Weaverville with their two teenage sons, Jeshua and Jarib, and three adorable dogs.  She loves soccer, especially when her guys are playing, and hanging out with her family.
Heather loves working with kids and parents to deepen the intentionality of  personal discipleship. She is excited about serving at New Life and can't wait to meet you!

Stephanie Guilfoyle - Church Assistant/Preschool Ministry Assistant/Childcare Coordinator

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.


Rich Banis - Finance Director

Rich Banis was reared in Chicago Heights, IL, where he and Barbara ministered to youth. They moved to Florida in 1974, ministering to senior adults for several years. He and Barbara have been married 48 years and have five grown children, eight grandchildren and three great grandsons.

They entered missionary service in 1980 serving in Suriname, South America with World team. They joined Helps International Ministries in 1983 returning to Suriname. They have also served in England, Cyprus, Nigeria, Spain and Bethlehem, Israel. We currently serve with International Christian Hospice. They became a part of the New Life Family in 2001. Rich feels privileged to be used by the Lord at New Life Community Church using his accounting skills.


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 38 years and have two sons and one daughter-in-law; Scott, Morgen & grandchildren Greyson & Everly live in Denver, CO. Youngest son Keith lives in England. In her free time she enjoys hiking, reading, and spoiling their dogs Zoey & Ansley.

New LIfe Elders





















Steve Harris


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