Leadership & Staff
Dr. Branton Burleson serves as Lead Pastor for Grace Baptist West Asheville. Prior to coming to GBWA, he was one of the founding pastors of Covenant Baptist Church in Arden. Dr. Burleson is also a professor at Fruitland Baptist Bible College in Hendersonville where he teaches Hermeneutics on-campus and online and Gospels and Paul’s Epistles online. He is a graduate of Fruitland Baptist Bible College, North Greenville University, Reformed Theological Seminary, and earned the Doctor of Education (EdD) degree from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. He is a past board member of Blue Ridge Prison and Jail Ministries and the Baptist State Convention of NC. He served as Vice President of the Henderson County Ministerial Association and founded and chaired the board of Imago Dei Classical Academy in Mills River. He is Vice Moderator for the Buncombe Baptist Association and a coach for the WNC Region of The Pillar Network. Dr. Burleson is a native of the mountains of Western NC. He and his wife, Jessica, have been blessed with four children, Abigail and Isabel (twins), Ruth, and Luke.
D. Ross Smith is the Pastor of Worship and Families at Grace Baptist West Asheville. He served as a pastoral intern in worship ministry under the pastoral staff at First Baptist Church of Durham. He and his wife, Sarah, were members at First Baptist Church of Durham for five years, and were sent by FBCD to serve Grace in West Asheville. Ross and Sarah have one daughter named Autumn, and the family considers themselves a missionary unit in West Asheville. Ross’ background in worship ministry comes from the initial aspiration of a lifetime spent in music study that by God’s grace was shifted toward a desire to spend a lifetime teaching God’s Word. He also serves GBWA by supporting and equipping parents to disciple their families in loving God, loving one another, and loving their neighbors.
Sarah Smith is the Church Administrator at Grace Baptist West Asheville. She is married to Pastor Ross Smith and together they have a daughter named Autumn. She manages the day-to-day at GBWA and is at work in supporting and organizing the moving parts of the vision at GBWA. She was sent with her husband and daughter as a family to serve Grace as a missionary unit in West Asheville by First Baptist Church of Durham where she was a member for five years. Sarah personally knows the importance of Gospel-shaping relationships between friends and eagerly serves GBWA in this way.