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Rev. Ashley Crowder Stanley, Senior Pastor –



The Reverend Ashley Crowder Stanley began her ministry at Mills River United Methodist Church in July 2013. She attended Duke University for both undergraduate and Divinity School. After school, she and her husband moved to Minneapolis, MN. where, in 1985, she was ordained and served her first church. After returning to North Carolina, she rejoined her home conference (WNCC) and was appointed as an instructor of pastoral care and counseling at Duke Divinity School from 1987-1994. Since that time she has served as Pastor of Biltmore United Methodist Church in Asheville, as the Asheville District Superintendent, as the Senior Pastor of Wesley Memorial United Methodist Church in High Point, NC and most recently as the Director of the Transition into Ministry program for the Western North Carolina Conference.

Throughout her ministry, Ashley has been actively involved in the work of the Annual Conference, her alma mater and her local community. She was privileged to serve on the Conference Re-Organization Task Force, the District Committee on Ordained Ministry, the Conference Transition Team and the Board of Ordained Ministry. She is the past president of the Duke Divinity School National Alumni Association and has been a member of its Board of Visitors. While serving in Asheville, Ashley co-founded Room in the Inn, a homeless ministry for women, which has now celebrated its 12th anniversary. She has been a delegate to the United Methodist General and Jurisdictional conferences. In 2011, Ashley was named a Trustee at Duke University. Currently, she serves as the Chair of the Western North Carolina Board of Ordained Ministry.

Her ministry passions include preaching and worship leadership, teaching, community building and seeking ways to reach marginalized persons. She loves to laugh, hear great music, be trusted with the holy moments of pastoral ministry and work with a team committed to making the world a better place. She knows she is greatly blessed to be at Mills River UMC!

Ashley is married to Dr. Thomas (T.) Stanley, a cardiac anesthesiologist with AllCare Clinical Associates (formerly Asheville Anesthesia), and they are the grateful and proud parents of Laura, Catherine and Jake.
Rev. Jeff McCumber, Associate Pastor –


Reverend Jeff McCumber is a native of Goldsboro, NC and has been serving in the Western North Carolina Conference since 2013 as an ordained elder. Before coming to Mills River, Jeff served churches in Mineral Springs, NC, Herndon, VA and Angier, NC. He received his BA in religion with a minor in Theater from Campbell University and attended Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington, DC where he received his Master’s degree.
Jeff’s journey includes his wife who is also a pastor in the WNCC. They met at Campbell and got married in DC in 2013. His wife is serving at Groce UMC near Asheville. They don’t have any children, but are very devoted dog owners to their two dogs – Bilbo Baggins (Labradoodle) & Kasumi (Lab-Mix).
Jeff’s passions for ministry include preaching, teaching, student and young adult ministry, and building relationships. Jeff loves walking with people in their faith journey and helping them connect with God.
Rev. Kayln Wiley, Director of Christian Education


Kayln Wiley spent most of her childhood growing up in the mountains of Western NC. Following graduation from high school in Waynesville, Kayln attended The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where she received a Bachelor of Music with a focus on vocal performance and music education. It was during her time in college when she began to realize a call into ordained ministry. While in Chapel Hill, Kayln was a member, student leader, and then served on staff at Wesley Campus Ministry at UNC-Chapel Hill. During this time, she served on staff and as a consultant for local churches in the triangle. In addition, Kayln also worked for two non-profit organizations, Carolina Women’s Center and Kidzu Children’s Museum. It was through these experiences her passion for connecting the world and the Church began to truly take shape.
In 2014, Kayln moved back to Western NC, where she continued to serve at local churches, including First UMC Waynesville, Central UMC in Asheville, and Christ UMC in Weaverville. Kayln is a graduate of Duke Divinity School, where she received a Master of Arts in Christian Practice in 2016. She is thrilled to be the first deacon appointed to Mills River UMC. Kayln also currently serves on the Board for the Asheville Wesley Foundation at UNC-Asheville.

Kayln is married to Grady, who serves on staff at Long’s Chapel United Methodist Church, 

Tommy Webster, Director of Music Ministries
Darrien “Chili” Thorstad, Worship Director
Darrien “Chili” Thorstad is a native of Cloquet, MN and comes to us by way of Cocoa Beach, Florida where he served at Riverside Presbyterian Church for over 10 years. He began his music ministry there as the worship leader for the Contemporary Service and then as Music Director for both worship services where he directed the bell choir and chancel choir, in addition to playing the organ.  He lives with his family in the Asheville area and his wife is the Business Administrator at Black Mountain Presbyterian Church, where his 3 year old son attends preschool. 
As a professional pianist, keyboardist and vocalist, he has performed all over the U.S. and internationally as far away as Australia for nearly 30 years. A composer of both secular and contemporary Christian music, he is currently anticipating the release of his first original album, Prodigal Son.
Since he entered into music ministry, Chili has felt a sense of the Holy Spirit working to make the way clear for further growth and maturity in music composition and ministry. He says, “I know that the Holy Spirit is active in the world today and I hope through my music and call to modern Christian worship leading that I can be a conduit through which God meets the churched and the unchurched where they are, which always seems to be the intersection of the daily and the divine.”
Ruth Williams, Director of the Mills River Life Enrichment Center –


Ruth is a graduate of Liberty University with a Master in Human Services. She has been the director of the Mills River Life Enrichment Center for the past 5 years. The Mills River Life Enrichment Center is the senior adult outreach of Mills River United Methodist Church. Ruth works with church volunteers ministering to the senior adults of the community and as a follower of Jesus Christ, she considers it a privilege to serve Him through this ministry.
A Virginia native, Ruth has lived in Western North Carolina for 20 years. She is the mother to one son, Cody. She enjoys time spent with her family, walking with her dog, Sandler and cooking for family, friends, and MRLEC senior adults.
Diana Spitzer, Secretary


While Diana Spitzer is a native of northern California originally, she has had the blessed opportunity to enjoy life in Texas, Michigan, and northern Virginia before settling into the beautiful mountains of western North Carolina.

From an early age she developed a sense of service to others, beginning in her home church in northern California. Caring for children in the nursery, singing in the choir, working with children in Vacation Bible School, and serving as a summer camp counselor; her parents led the way in showing her the satisfaction of the Lord’s service, with her mother working as their church secretary, and her father printing bulletins and maintaining the church property.

Diana brings more than 25 years of professional secretarial and office management experience. She has had the opportunity to work in a variety of fields, and in a number of large and small cities across the country that allowed her to develop a varied skill set and appreciation for diversity. In her spare time, Diana enjoys many community-focused activities, such as works for Project Linus, the Hendersonville Rescue Mission, United Way, Habitat for Humanity, and Counsel On Aging. For the last 10 years she has been a resident of Hendersonville with her husband Steve, and son Austin – both who are Eagle Scouts!
Jay Blanton, Maintenance


Rich Babb, Custodian