Mike Townsend

Senior Pastor
Pastor Mike Townsend came to Columbia in November 1985 after graduating from Southeastern Seminary. He led Colonial Heights through its relocation and name change. The church relocated in 1999 from Colonial Drive to 5501 Broad River Road and is now called New Heights Church. Pastor Mike uses his background in mechanical contracting and skills in woodworking to lead mission trips from Appalachia to Haiti.
Mike and Debby love the time they spend with their family. They have two married daughters, Traci and Holly, as well as 6 grandchildren. Pastor Mike's door is always open for a visit from the grandchildren.
You will find a different approach to speaking from Pastor Mike. He will engage your eyes as well as ears with his signature object lessons. He uses them masterfully to help you remember the key Biblical principle in his sermon.
And of course, if you can't find him at the church or with his family, you might need to check the golf course.


Donnie Smith

Music Director
Donnie is a native of Rock Hill, SC, and a graduate of the University of South Carolina (B. A. Media Arts) and New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary (Masters Church Music, Conducting). He is married to Elaine, and they have 3 children (David, Joanna, & Andrew)  daughters-in-law (Susan, wife of David), (Katie, wife of Andrew) a son in-law (Andrew) and 8 grandchildren (Max, Owen, Morgan, Wyatt, Aidyn, Grae, Caleb, and Jonathan).
Donnie has been with Colonial Heights & New Heights since 1992, initially as Minister of Music & Youth, and with growth of New Heights, he is now full-time music.
Before surrendering to vocational ministry, Donnie toured with various musical groups as a singer/ instrumentalist... including Fred Waring & The Pennsylvanians (if you're under 60 years old ask your parents or grandparents). He enjoys writing music, playing tennis and being the director of the New Heights Community Players.


Aaron Tripp

Family Minister

Aaron Tripp and his beautiful wife Kathryn, were both born in Columbia, SC. Aaron attended the College of Charleston and majored in Biology with a desire to go into the medical field. After a mission trip to La Plata, Argentina, God revealed to Aaron that He had a very different plan for his life. Aaron and Kathryn met in their senior year of college and dated as Aaron spent a year on staff with Campus Crusade for Christ. They were married in July of 2011 and immediately moved to Wake Forest, NC for Aaron to attend Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. Their son Connor was born in February of 2014 and Aaron graduated with his MDiv in May.

After graduation, God called Aaron to come to New Heights as Family Minister after serving as Senior Pastor at a church in Epsom, NC. God has given Aaron a passion for discipleship and teaching Martial Arts as a tool to reach people with the Gospel. As family minister, Aaron oversees Youth and Children's Ministry here at New Heights and would love to answer any questions you may have about either area.

Aaron enjoys music and teaching others how to study the Bible and share their faith. Feel free to stop by his office and tell him how much you love the Gamecocks.


Waletha Rish

Waletha Rish started as part-time secretary at Colonial Heights in 1997. She moved with us during the relocation to New Heights in 1999 and became full-time in January, 2000. If you really want to know what's going on or need information about New Heights, call 772-6000, Monday through Thursday, from 9 AM - 4 PM to talk to her.