In 1998, Pastor Kirby St. John (now MN District Youth Director) was hired as River of Life’s youth director. Since that time, St. John has taken Breakthrough Student Ministries from 20 to 200 students. In 2004, River of Life church built a state-of-the-art youth facility in order to create an atmosphere where students feel acceptance, love, and are challenged to start or strengthen their walk with God.
In 2001, Pastor Kirby St. John (MN DYD) had a vision to start a master's commission program in Cold Spring. His vision was to create a discipleship center that would train and equip new leaders for ministry, whether in the church or secular workforce, while combining experience with the benefits of college education.
After many years of planning, this vision was turned into a reality with the help of Pastor Adam Haugen who joined the staff in 2008 as the HMC executive director to pioneer now what is called Heartland Master's Commission. Adam's wife, Amber, has served on staff at River of Life since 2002, and with her strong educational background, she became the academic dean of HMC. Heartland officially launched in Fall 2009.
In 2016, Adam and Amber felt a leading into a more active discipleship role within River of Life Church here in Cold Spring. For over a year they had been strategically putting pieces in place to ensure the growth of Heartland discipleship program. Adam and Amber decided to step aside as HMC directors effective after our 2017 graduation ceremony.
After much prayer, the leadership of the program was passed to Dillon and McKenzie Patterson. Dillon and McKenzie are alumni who both completed three years in the program. They served as youth pastors for two years before coming back to Cold Spring in 2016 as the HMC assistant director and admissions coordinator. We are excited for all the ways God is going to use them to influence student's lives. Amber has stayed as the acting Academic Dean and Adam continues to occupy as the financial overseer.