The church started out as West Michigan Avenue United Methodist Church and was made possible mainly by the work of Mr. and Mrs. H.B. Rice. Mr. Rice owned property on Michigan Avenue and he visualized a church standing on this corner one day. He tried to interest several different denominations but none cared to finance a church building project.
His wife talked to her neighbor, Mrs. Barley, and the two ladies organized a group called the Michigan Avenue Thimble Club, whose purpose was to help start a church. They made quilts, aprons, hosted dinners, etc., and Mrs. Rice opened her home again and again for meetings and to hold fairs to sell their articles. When the men were invited to join, the name was the changed to The Mission Club. They worked in this manner until they had about $750.00.
In 1910, the Zion Evangelical Church was about to quit holding services due to language difficulties, so Mr. Rice asked Rev. F.H. Klump, the presiding elder, to bring the question of the conference taking over the new church project before the proper authorities and started a Mission Church. H.B. Rice had a dream that he fell off a bicycle onto the ground where the church now stands. Rice then gave the ground for the church and parsonage. Our first minister, Rev. H.R. Voelker, was also the chairperson of the building committee; the others were Mr. Rice and Mr. Prochan. A new church was erected, and dedicated in 1911. The Rev. and Mrs. R.J. Lautner arrived in 1944 and found a fruitful field with great opportunities. After 4 years of study, he began to realize that plans should be laid for an enlargement of the church building. In 1949, under the leadership of Rev. R.J. Lautner, the church remodeling began, adding a new Sunday school unit. In 1950, Ground was broken for the $100,000.00 Sunday school unit and remodeling. During this time, the church held services at a small Mission hall on Vermont Street in Saginaw. On Palm Sunday, 1951, the congregation was going to move back into the church. The members worked until 11 o’clock in the evening in preparation. Later, Fire broke out damaging the new building and parts of the old on the night before the congregation was to use it for the first time. The members went over to the parsonage and found Rev. and Mrs. Lautner with their heads buried in their hands, weeping. With faith and courage, the congregation repaired and completed the structure. After the damaged part was refurbished, the remodeled church was occupied.
Our church stands as a testimony of the faith of those founders.
In 2016, West Michigan Avenue United Methodist Church was renewed and renamed New Heart United Methodist Church. We have a renewed heart and a spirit for service and our community!