2460 Gum Branch Rd | 910.346.1114 | Sun 10am | Wed 7pm


Pastors & Staff

Chris Phillips

Senior Pastor

Pastor Chris Phillips is the Senior Pastor of River of Life Church, a thriving multi-generational, multicultural church in Jacksonville, North Carolina. Pastor Chris and his wife, Miriam, have a passion for military families and sponsor a military support group through the church that reaches hundreds of deployed servicemen and women every month.

Before coming to Jacksonville, Pastor Chris and Miriam spent four years as a missionaries in Brazil, South America, and continue to support several works in that country and around the world. Now, Pastor Chris has been in ministry for 30 years, and has a great passion for Jacksonville and the surrounding areas and providing pastoral leadership to River of Life Church.

Pastors Chris and Miriam have three grown children, Elise, Evan, and Erianna, two sons-in-law, Torre and Maurice, and a daughter-in-law, Brit, and is expecting his first grandchild in May of 2020.

Miriam Phillips

Senior Associate Pastor

Pastor Miriam Phillips is a dynamic speaker and teacher who delivers the Word of God in a practical way. She and her husband Chris pastor River of Life Church in Jacksonville, NC, a multi-cultural, non-denominational and charismatic church that is impacting that area mightily.

Having grown up on the mission field, Pastor Miriam has a passion for the nations and has traveled all over the world teaching and preaching the Gospel. As head of the Fearless Warrior Princess Women’s Ministry and the Prophetic Ministry at River of Life, Pastor Miriam also has a desire to see women rise up and fulfill the purpose God has for them.

Pastor Miriam enjoys Kentucky basketball, coffee, chocolate, traveling and spending time with her six grown children, Torre and Elise, Evan and Brit, Maurice and Erianna and a puppy, Murphy.

Mason Phillips

Incoming Virginia Campus Pastor

Pastor Mason Phillips and his family came to Jacksonville because of the Marine Corps, where he served our country for four years before getting his Bachelor’s degree in IT.  He attended River of Life in its beginnings in the storefront, and has been on full-time staff at the church since 2006.

Pastor Mason wears several hats at River of Life.  Pastor Mason heads up all of the church IT, including podcasts and video, live streaming and Web site maintenance.  He is a tech guru and is always around to help the staff with various technical difficulties.  Pastor Mason is a Gallup Certified Strengths Coach and has coached many of the staff to use their strengths in the ministry.

Pastor Mason teaches spiritual development classes, including The Purple Book.  He also speaks approximately once a month at our weekly services, along with being an integral part of building the second location of River of Life Virginia.  Pastors Mason and Nanette will be taking over as Lead Campus Pastors of the Virginia Campus in November 2020.

Pastor Mason and his wife, Nanette, have two beautiful children, Savannah and Derek.

Jackie Hornage

Children's Pastor

Pastor Jackie Hornage is the Children’s Minister here at River of Life.  Her father’s last duty station brought her to Jacksonville in the 1970s.  She graduated from Jacksonville High School and then attended the University of North Carolina at Wilmington where she graduated with a Bachelors in Education.  Pastor Jackie came to River of Life in the storefront church in 1993 and began serving.  In 2000, she transitioned from an elementary school teacher to full-time staff.

Pastor Jackie’s passion is seeing children come to know Jesus, and she always says that children are the biggest mission field in the world.  The Children’s Ministry at the church is a vital aspect of what we do to build the Kingdom of God, and Pastor Jackie is integral in building this ministry.  Each year she overseers other programs for the children — Vacation Bible School, Camp Dixie, Back to School Bash, Boys Night Out and more.

Pastor Jackie also heads up several other ministries, including the Nursing Home Ministry and Greeter’s Ministry.  She is an overseer in our Fearless Warrior Princess Ministry and team leader in our Prophetic Ministry.
Pastor Jackie is also a master at organizing volunteers and getting people plugged into church.  She loves to spend time with her family, reading, walking on the beach and in worship.

James + Crystal Grayson

Virginia Campus Site Pastors

In 1998, a young reconnaissance Marine named James had no idea that his life was about to be turned upside down. He had a dramatic encounter with the love of God onboard the USS WASP off the coast of Malta.  That April night, he surrendered his life to Christ, and would never be the same! The change was undeniable! Pastor James says, “After giving my life to Jesus, I knew I wanted to serve Him with all of my heart! ”

Immediately after his conversion, he was introduced to River of Life Church where he would meet his beautiful wife Crystal and the two would become members later that same year. While serving in the ministry of River of Life, he felt the call of God to train for full-time ministry.

In 2000, Pastors James and Crystal would travel across the country to Orange County, California to attend Spirit Life Bible College where they would study World Missions together.

In 2003, Pastor James became a full-time member of the River of Life ministry staff. The following year Pastor James, Crystal, and their three children (James III, Eliyah, and Miriam) would move to Treviso, Italy to engage in church planting in the Veneto Region where they would work together for the next six years.

In 2010, the couple returned to River of Life in North Carolina and would begin to pioneer new ways of outreach to the community.

In 2015, River of Life launched a new campus in Dumfries, VA, and in 2016, Pastors James and Crystal took responsibility for the leadership of the new campus.

Being an evangelist at heart, Pastor James is passionate about missions both locally and globally, and has a desire to see the Body of Christ equipped to reach others with the love of Jesus.

Even with all the change in his life, Pastor James still enjoys hunting, fishing, reading, Italian Caffe, and Auburn football.

Meet the team.

Maurice Scott

Youth Ministry Leader
Maurice is passionate about discipleship, missions, worship, and seeing the new generation of youth and young adults rise up and be who they’re called to be. He and his wife, Erianna, now lead Advance Youth.

Elise Cummings

Media and Publications Director
Elise is responsible for the graphic design, printed materials, social media, marketing and various other areas of the church, and loves seeing people come to Jesus based on the creative stories the team tells.

Topeka Benton

Senior Executive Assistant
Topeka Benton is the Administrative Assistant for Pastors Chris and Miriam Phillips at River of Life Church, and juggles several aspects of the ministry that are vital in keeping things running smoothly.  

Justin McMahon

Finance Director
Justin directs the financial operations of River of Life.  He and his wife, Vanessa, are leaders at their home church in  Beulaville, NC, where they live with their two sons,
Oliver and Theodore.

Erianna Scott

Youth Ministry Leader
Erianna and her husband Maurice lead the Advance Youth Group at ROL.  Erianna is also an integral part of the office staff, serving as an administrative assistant.

Nanette Phillips

Incoming Virginia Campus
Nanette is responsible for planning, organizing, managing, and coordinating various types of events and groups.  As and Interior Designer, she has a passion and gift for creating atmospheres. Pastors Mason and Nanette will be taking over as Lead Campus Pastors of the Virginia Campus in November 2020.

Robin Fitzgerald

Finance Assistant
Robin is responsible for assisting with the financial operations of the church and the day-to-day operations of the River of Life
Church Bookstore.

Kelly Yore

Production Director
Kelly is a skilled musician and technical guru. He is responsible for the production of each service and ensures that each sermon is edited  
each week.

Calyn Paquin

Children's Administrative Assistant
Calyn is the Administrative Assistance to Pastor Jackie in the River Kids Zone. She is originally from Malaysia and has been a Marine wife for over 20 years. She and her husband, Alan have 2 children, Abigail & Micah.

Tiffany Borges

Administrative Assistant

Rob McClellan

Facilities Director
Rob retired from the U.S. Marine Corps in 2009 and remained in the Jacksonville, NC area.  Rob currently serves on various ministries while heading up the facilities area of the church.

Karen Tates

River Tween Leader
Karen leads our Middle School Ministry. She has a passion to help Tweens discover their identity in Christ and build a strong foundation in the Word of God.

Sammi Detres

Media Administrative Assistant
Sammi is a wife, mom of three, videographer, photographer, and creative who leads our Photography + Videography team as well as assists with Media and Communications of the church.

Latrice Osmack

Worship  Ministry Coordinator
Latrice is passionate about leading people in worship and has been a part of the worship ministry at ROL since 2005.  She is responsible for coordinating the functionalities of the worship team.

Rhonda Newson

Cafe Manager

Greg Edwards

Audio Director
Greg’s extensive technical expertise spans 20 years of study and application.  He leads the Sound Team in excellence to produce a stellar worship experience.