About Dennis Smith

I was born in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and attended Godwin Heights High School, graduating salutatorian in 1967. From there I enrolled at General Motors Institute (now Kettering) in Flint, where I met my wife Paula. We were married in Holy Trinity Lutheran Church, a socially conscious congregation in the heart of Flint’s poorest neighborhoods. We both went on to earn Bachelor’s degrees from University of Michigan – Flint College. Following graduation, I taught physics at Northwestern High School in Flint, while Paula taught elementary school down the road from Northwestern. Both of us were active members of our local teachers union.  Our elder son, Timothy, was born while we were both teachers in Flint Schools.

In 1976, following my graduation from MSU with a Master’s degree, our family moved to Dallas Texas. Again, both Paula and I were teachers in the Dallas and Plano school districts, respectively.


In 1978 I accepted a job with Texas Instruments in Dallas as manager of a high-tech production department. Our younger son, Joshua, was born shortly after.

While serving as president of Ascension Lutheran Church in Garland, Texas, a scrappy congregation committed to social action on behalf of the poor, I responded to the call to enter full time pastoral ministry and enrolled at Trinity Lutheran Seminary in Columbus, Ohio. Four years later, I began my first call to serve Eben-Ezer Lutheran Church in rural Texas. 

I accepted a call to serve Messiah Evangelical Lutheran Church in Constantine shortly after Paula and I became residents of St. Joseph County in 2004. 

I retired from congregational ministry at the end of 2017. During thirty-two years of pastoral ministry, I have sought to carry on the commitment to serve “the least of these, my brothers and sisters” (Matthew 25:40) that I first learned as a teacher and member of Holy Trinity in Flint. That is a commitment both Paula and I now carry into the field of public service.