Our Story

How it all started...

In the spring of 1959, Rev. E. O. Hessel, through the mission council of the Methodist Conference, was selected to spearhead the beginning of a new Methodist Church in the Robbinsdale area of Rapid City. The church began with the name South Maple UMC, due to the location purchased for the church.

By early October, a Quonset building was placed on a cement slab just south of the parsonage, which was also begun in October of 1959 and completed in February of 1960. The first church service was held in the Quonset on October 11, 1959. Pie tins were used as collection plates and folding chairs provided seating. Before the end of December a new Baldwin organ was placed near the altar as  a special courtesy of the Alex Schneider Music Company. It was a "no-down/pay as you can" deal. What an era that was!

On December 16, 1962, ground was broke for a new brick building. The cornerstone was laid on June 16, 1963. This church was the first building in this area to be constructed using pre-stressed concrete double-trees. The first service held in the new church was May 10, 1964. Our Sunday school was thrilled with Hessel Hall, which became their home in the basement of the church. We had a "huge" kitchen, a place to serve our meals, and host our bazaars.

We outgrew the church and in 1993 an addition was built. The addition provided Sunday School rooms, office space, and a narthex to connect the new and the old buildings. On February 10, 2008 we held a special service to celebrate the burning of the mortgage for the addition.

Expanding the vision...

Throughout the history of Open Heart UMC (formerly South Maple UMC) the church has been blessed by many strong, committed volunteers who have worked hard to strengthen the many ministries of the congregation. This witness has borne much fruit as members, Jan Gross (Debbie) and Susie O'Connell (Bill) have gone into ordained ministry in our annual conference.

Open Heart had the opportunity when it was South Maple to help serve the Methodist Church in Fairburn, SD for a number of years. Four laypersons took turns traveling to Fairburn on Sunday mornings to conduct their services.

In 2018 Open Heart officially changed it's name from South Maple UMC. This was done with the desire to more vibrantly represent this particular faith community to a world that was becoming less and less interested in church. Additionally, under the leadership of Pastor Holly Sortland at that time, many new outreach ministries were started.

Where we are headed...Circle of Friends.

With the help of new technology, Open Heart is moving forward with it's passion for service, led by our fearless Circle of Friends. Through our partnership with the Solar Oven Partners ministry, we will reach those in need throughout the world. We continue to serve our neighbors each month by providing a space for Feeding South Dakota to serve the people of Rapid City, and for the community to serve one another through the Free Little Pantry any day of the week.

We are taking the steps to build Children and Youth programs that will take us into the next decade as strong as we started the 21st century. Though we are currently small in number, we serve a mighty God. Join us and be a part of where we are headed next!

pastoral history...

Our Pastoral Leaders (Plus the amazing spouses who support them):
  • 1959-1965: Rev. Edwin O. Hessel (Mildred)
  • 1965-1973: Rev. Jack Berg (Betty)
  • 1973-1978: Russell Pierce (Mary)
  • 1978-1982: Tom Atkins (Marilyn)
  • 1982: Rev. David Dunsmore served as interim
  • 1982-1989: Rev. Dick Boyd (Cheryl)
  • 1989: David Scarff served as interim
  • 1989-1993: Rev. Bob Wall (Gerrie)
  • 1993-1999: Rev. Gene Kroger (Barbara)
    • Rev. Kroger left to become Superintendent of the Central District of the Dakota's United Methodist Annual Conference.
  • 1999-2005: Rev. Tom Haggar (Char)
  • 2002-2004: Muriel Oates (Jim) served as Associate Pastor
  • 2005-2007: Rev. Deb Mack (Norm)
  • 2007-2017: Rev. John McKnight Jr. (Cheryl)
  • 2017-2020: Holly Sortland (Eric)
  • 2020 to Present: Michele Slott (Rodger)