Who We Are

Receive God’s love through faith in Jesus’ sacrifice.


Equip ourselves with God’s love through studying His word.


Apply God’s love to heal everything broken in our lives.


Live God’s love as an example and expression to others.


God’s LOVE changes everything.

Mission Statement

The River is an interdenominational, intercultural, full-gospel church with a passion to see God transform people’s lives through an intimate, personal relationship with the living Savior, Jesus Christ.
Our desire is to introduce everyone to God’s real love, as expressed through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and the new life He’s called us to in Him.
We help every Christ follower identify their God-given spiritual gifts, then empower and encourage them to serve and make Christ-followers of others.


Pastor Howard & Melanie Malone

Howie Malone

Lead Pastor

Pastor Howie and his wife Melanie have been in ministry for more than 30 years, serving on four continents.  Their experiences range from mowing grass, prayer room, children’s church and nursery, to  leading Bible studies and small groups, and serving as worship pastors.  Wherever there was a need, they jumped in and served.


Howie served in the Army as a Military Police Officer from 1977-2009, when he retired here in Waynesville. He and Melanie served as the worship pastors at Grace Covenant Christian Center from 2007 to 2013, when Howie was asked to step in as the interim pastor. As Howie jokes, “Here I am almost 9 years later, and they still haven’t found my replacement”.  Easter Sunday, 2014, Grace Covenant became The River, under their leadership.


Howie’s first pastoral role was at a small weekly service held on an Army base in Seoul, South Korea from 1993-95. Since then, both Howie and Melanie have served in primary leadership roles at their church wherever the Army took them. Their life has been one amazing God thing after another, whether it was God opening the door for Howie to preach in the Army chapel in Germany during Operation Iraqi Freedom, or leading a weekly Bible study while deployed to Afghanistan, or placing them in the roles of lead pastors, God has truly blessed them.


Christina Gordon

Executive Pastor


Claudia West



Alex Moon

The ARK Director


Kelly Tillott

Youth Pastor


Brian & Claudia West

The River Kids


JJ Stokes

Worship & Prayer


Rupert Cooper

First Impressions


Patricia Gordon

Follow-Up & Care


Jerome Thinner

Tech Arts


Josh & Sarah Mize



Rodney Miederhoff


Our Beliefs

The Holy Bible

The Holy Bible, and only the Bible, is the authoritative Word of God.  It alone is the final authority in determining all doctrinal truths.  In its original writing, it is inspired, infallible and inerrant

Proverbs 30:5-6; II Timothy 3:16-17; II Peter 1:20-21

The Trinity

There is one God, eternally existent in three persons: Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  These three are coequal and co-eternal.

Genesis 1:26; I John 5:7; Matthew 3:16-17 & 28:19

Jesus Christ

Jesus Christ is God the Son, the second person of the Trinity.  On earth, Jesus was 100% God and 100% man.  He is the only person ever to have lived a faultless life.  He was born of a virgin, lived a sinless life, performed miracles, died on a cross for mankind, and thus atoned for our sins through His shed blood.  He rose from the dead on the third day according to the Scriptures, ascended to heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father, and will return again in power and glory to rule forever.

Isaiah 9:6; John 1:1, 14 & 20:28; I Timothy 2:5 & 3:16; Philippians 2:5-11

The Virgin Birth

Jesus Christ was conceived by God the Father, through the Holy Spirit, the third person of the Trinity, in the virgin Mary’s womb; therefore, He is the Son of God.  Being born of the Seed of the Holy Spirit and not a human man, enabled Him to live a sinless life and become the “spotless” Lamb of God.

Isaiah 7:14; Matthew 1:18 & 24-25; Luke 1:26-35; John 1:29

Man's fall and redemption

Man was created good and upright, but by voluntary rebellion and disobedience to God’s command, he sinned and fell out of relationship with God.  The only hope of redemption for mankind is through faith in the blood sacrifice of Jesus Christ, God’s Son.

Genesis 1:26-31 & 3:1-13; Romans 5:12-21

Jesus' Blood

The blood that Jesus Christ shed on the cross of Calvary was perfect because He was sinless, and is the only sacrifice 100% sufficient to cleanse all mankind of every sin.  Jesus allowed Himself to be punished in our place to take upon Himself God’s judgment and wrath, rightfully ours through our rebellion and disobedience. His sacrifice enables everyone who receives forgiveness through faith in Him to become a “new creature in Christ” and to become a child of God.

I John 1:7-9; Colossians 1:19-23; Romans 3:21-26 & 5:6-11


We are saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ: His death, burial and resurrection.  Salvation is a gift from God, not the result of our good works or any human efforts.  Man cannot save himself, only God, through His own actions.

Ephesians 2:8-9; Galatians 2:16 & 3:8; Titus 3:5; Romans 10:9-10; Acts 16:31; Hebrews 9:22


For anyone to know God, spiritual regeneration by the Holy Spirit is absolutely essential.

John 3:3; II Corinthians 5:14-21; Romans 6:4 & 7:6; Galatians 2:19-20; Titus 3:3-7


Repentance is literally changing the way we think about God, ourselves and the world.  It is turning our backs on our old sinful nature, desires and ways of living (thinking, talking and acting), taking up our cross daily (dying to ourselves) and following Jesus, walking in newness of life.

Matthew 4:17; Mark 6:12; Luke 13:1-5; Acts 2:36-39, 3:19 & 17:29-31


Sanctification is the ongoing process of yielding to God’s Word and Holy Spirit in order to complete the development of Christ’s character in us. It is through the present ministry of Holy Spirit and God’s Word that the Christian is enabled to live a Godly life.

II Corinthians 3:17-18 & 6:14-18; I Thessalonians 4:3-7 & 5:23-24; Romans 8:29 & 12:1-5; Hebrews 2:11-18

Holy Spirit Indwells Every Believer

When a person receives Jesus as Savior and Lord, Holy Spirit comes in and takes up permanent residence in that person’s heart as a “guarantee” of God’s salvation.  Holy Spirit is the believer’s comforter (counselor, helper, intercessor, advocate, strengthener, and standby).  He is “God with Us” since Jesus has ascended to the Father in heaven.  Jesus prayed to the Father and the Father sent Holy Spirit to remain with us forever.

John 14:16-18 AMP, 26; 16:7-15; II Corinthians 5:5

Baptism With The Holy Spirit

Given by the Father on Pentecost, after Jesus ascended to heaven, The Holy Spirit came in the fulness of His power and filled every believer that day, birthing the New Testament church in fulfillment of the Father’s promise, as Jesus foretold. The Father gave the Holy Spirit to empower the church to be powerful witnesses to Jesus’ resurrection throughout the whole earth.

Joel 2:28-29; Matthew 3:11; Mark 16:17; Luke 11:9-13, 24:49; John 15:26-27; Acts 1:8, 2:1-4, 17-18, 38-39; 8:14-19; 10:44-48; 11:15-18; 19:1-7

Gifts of the Holy Spirit

The Holy Spirit demonstrates His power through a variety of spiritual gifts to build, encourage and strengthen the church, demonstrate the veracity of the resurrection, and confirm the power of the Gospel.  The Bible’s lists of these gifts are not necessarily exhaustive, and the gifts may occur in various combinations, as the Spirit wills.  All believers are commanded to earnestly desire and seek the demonstration of these  spiritual gifts in their lives.  The spiritual gifts operate in harmony with the scriptures and should never be used in violation of Biblical parameters.

I Corinthians 12:1-31, 14:1-40; Hebrews 2:3-4; Romans 1:11, 12:4-8; Ephesians 4:11-16; I Timothy 4:14; II Timothy 1:6-7; I Peter 4:9-11

Role of the Church

The church (Greek, Ekklesia) is Christ’s representative government in the earth. We are His chosen people, a Holy priesthood. We are also the ambassadors of the King of Heaven, to all the kingdoms of the world. The church is all referred to in scripture as the body of Christ, with Him being its head. God Himself places each member in the body and enables them with specific gifts. Each believer, born of the Holy Spirit is an integral part of Christ’s body and God-ordained to perform His divine purposes in the earth.

Matthew 16:18; Ephesians 1:22, 2:19-22; John 17:10-26; I Peter 2:9; Hebrews 10:24-25, 12:22-24

Healing the sick

Physical healing was a center piece of Jesus’ ministry and fulfilled prophesy about Him.  Jesus also empowered His disciples to heal the sick in His name.  Finally, Jesus included the command to all believers to lay hands on the sick to heal, also as a sign that He is Jehovah Rapha, the God who heals. The gifts of healings is also one of the nine gifts of the Holy Spirit, He distributes to members of the body of Christ as He wills.

Exodus 15:26; Psalm 103:2-3 & 107:20; Isaiah 53:5; Malachi 4:2; Matthew 8:16-17; I Peter 2:24; Mark 16:17-18; Acts 8:6-7; James 5:14-16


Jesus Christ was physically resurrected from the dead in a glorified body, three days after His crucifixion, as the first born of many brethren. Every person, the saved and unsaved, will one day be resurrected too; the saved to the resurrection to eternal life in Christ, and the unsaved to eternal damnation.

Luke 24:1-8, 13-16, 30-31, 36 & 39-43; John 2:19-22, 20:19-20, 26-28, 21:4; Acts 24:15; I Corinthians 15:42-44; Philippians 1:21-23 & 3:20-21; I Thessalonians 4:13-18


Heaven is a real place where God the Father rules over the universe He created, and Jesus sits, enthroned at the Father’s right hand, interceding for us.  It is also the place to which every believer’s spirit goes upon death, and waits to return with Christ, when He comes as King of Kings and Lord of Lords, to establish His eternal earthly kingdom.

Matthew 5:3, 12, 20, 6:20, 19:21, & 25:34; John 17:24; II Corinthians 5:1-2, 6-8; Hebrews 11:16; I Peter 1:4; Philippians 3:20


Hell is also a real place, created by God for Satan and his angels, containing a lake of fire that burns eternally.  God will conduct a great judgment of all mankind at the end of time, and will sentence all people whose names are not found written in the Lamb’s Book of Life, to eternal damnation and torment in the lake of fire with Satan and his angels.  This is the second death.

Matthew 25:41; Mark 9:43-48; Hebrews 9:27; II Thessalonians 1:6-9; Revelation 14:9-11, 20:12-15 & 21:8

The Second Coming

Jesus Christ will physically and visibly return to earth a second time to establish His eternal kingdom.  This will occur on a date and time undisclosed in the scriptures.  Jesus said it is not for us to know the day and time when He will return, that only the Father knows this.

Matthew 24:30, 26:63-64; Acts 1:9-11; I Thessalonians 4:15-17; II Thessalonians 1:7-8; Revelation 1:7, 22:7, 12, 17, 20

God's Provision

  • John 3:3-21
  • II Corinthians 5:17-21
  • Romans 10:9-10
  • Psalm 4:8
  • Isaiah 26:3
  • II Timothy 1:7
  • Philippians 4:7-8
  • Romans 12:1-2
  • Isaiah 53:5

  • Matthew 8:17

  • I Peter 2:24

  • James 5:14-16

  • Joshua 1:7-8

  • Malachi 3:10-11

  • Luke 6:38

  • II Corinthians 9:6-15

  • Deuteronomy 28:1-14

  • Psalm 34:9-10, 84:11

  • Philippians 4:18-19

  • I John 3:17-18


Water Baptism

Jesus’ own example and command is for every new believer in Jesus Christ to be baptized in water by emersion, in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit for the remission of sins.

Matthew 3:13-17, 28:19; Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38, 8:12 & 36-38; 10:47-48, 19:4-5

The Lord's Supper

(Holy Communion)

A unique time of communion between believers and Jesus is when the bread and fruit of the vine are taken in remembrance of Jesus’ shed blood and broken body on Calvary.  These elements serve as a reminder to every believer that Jesus’ sacrifice paid the price for complete forgiveness and wholeness.

Matthew 26:26-29; I Corinthians 10:16-17, 11:23-32


The Bible defines marriage as a life-long covenant entered into between one man and one woman.

Genesis 1:26-28, 2:21-24; Matthew 19:4-8; Ephesians 5:30-33

We Meet every Sunday at 10AM at The ARK.