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Opening hearts to new life

By: Content and photos courtesy of Pastor Holly Sortland

News_Open Heart

New signage will help to transform Rapid City South Maple UMC into Open Heart UMC.

"We are trying to do several things to meet the needs of our neighbors through outreach and evangelism," says Holly Sortland, pastor of Rapid City South Maple United Methodist Church, soon to become Open Heart United Methodist Church.

The church members voted in February 2018 to change their church's name from South Maple UMC to Open Heart UMC.  The congregation is experiencing several Holy Spirit breakthroughs.

South Maple UMC is engaged in the Journey Renewal Partnership — a revitalization process of the Dakotas Conference. As part of the second cohort of churches engaged in Journey Renewal, teams have attended training on Breakthrough Prayer, financial stewardship,reaching out beyond the church doors and leadership. 


Bishop Ough and Pearl Sortland (age 4) at the Journey Renewal breakfast celebration on March 4, 2018.

The church, which is located in the Robbinsdale area in southeast Rapid City, is surrounded by several schools. People in the neighborhood are in the lower to middle income range. Meeting the needs of those in the neighborhood has become a passion for the members of the congregation and their leader, Pastor Holly Sortland, who began her appointment at the church on July 1.

A “Little Free Pantry,” an outdoor food pantry, will soon be installed on the church's property.  The pantry was designed and built by Cub Scout Pack #74, an organization that the church has hosted for decades.

“We get a lot of foot traffic near our church,” says Pastor Holly. “Kids of all ages walk back and forth to school, and people without cars walk to the bus stop located near our church. Our hope is that people can take what they need from the food pantry, and that other people will leave donations in the pantry.  We will also have information about our worship and ministries attached to the pantry.”


Little Pantry

Bishop Ough, Pastor Holly Sortland and Cub Scout Pack #74 bless the Little Free Food Pantry at Open Heart UMC.

The “Little Free Pantry” was blessed at worship this past Sunday. Bishop Bruce R. Ough, resident bishop of the Dakotas-Minnesota area preached a message of hope and inspiration to those in attendance at South Maple UMC.

 The pantry is one of several outreach programs that the church has implemented to reach out to their neighbors. In January, members of the church launched a Tuesday after-school program for middle school age students. 



Students from the Tuesday after-school program enjoying an Ash Wednesday project.

Sortland describes, “Each week, we have new kids walk in our doors to get some snacks, pick up an application and chat with us a bit. It's really helped us to build connections to students and families at South Middle School.”

Tabitha's Closet, which provides gently used clothing and shoes for people of all ages is another way the members of the church are reaching out to the neighborhood. “We have also launched a partnership with Volunteers of America, and will become a diaper site in partnership with Mommy's Closet,” said Sortland.  “This will be a huge​ benefit to families without transportation on the south part of our city, as they won't have to take the bus across town to get access to free diapers.  We'll be able to dispense them directly from our free clothing store.”

South Maple—Open Heart UMC has experienced growth in membership, including 13 baptisms from July 2017—December 2017. The children's and youth program has tripled since 2016. The church is once again, for the first time in several years, holding children's church and Sunday school classes for children and youth.  

In his Sunday address to the congregation, Bishop Ough said, "Your new name says it all, doesn't it? You are positioning your church for the future. You are positioning yourself to be an open heart to your community and the larger Rapid City region as well."

New signage will be installed by Holy Week, and the church will hold their first worship service as Open Heart UMC on Easter Sunday. To learn more about the ministries of Open Heart UMC, you are encouraged to visit their new website at



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