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Photo by Fritz Rethage  ·    Posted November 30, 2005

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Welcome Rev. Dianna L. Smith

By Justin Watrel

In the post 9-11 world, people are beginning to look at their spirituality in a new light as religion has taken on a new place in our lives. People are looking for someone who not only can deliver the teaching of religion with energy and understanding, but at the same time be personable and approachable. The First Reformed Church of Hasbrouck Heights has found such a person in their new Minister, Dianna Smith.Minister Smith comes to us via the Prattsville Reformed Dutch Church of Prattsville, New York and the United Reformed Church of Sullivan County in Youngsville, New York. Dianna Smith was born in the Bronx and spent her growing up years in Kingston, NY in the Hudson Valley, where most of her family still lives. She met her husband, Paul, through her best friend when she was a teenager. Years later, they met again in the late 70’s. She added, "I asked him if he wanted to go see the movie "Grease" with me. It was as if time had never passed. I was convinced that he wouldn’t come and was surprised and delighted when he said yes." The couple have a daughter, Hannah, age three and a half and two children from Paul’s first marriage. "Hannah gets so excited with all the events Hasbrouck Heights offers to children," Minister Smith said.Originally trained as a lawyer, she graduated from Pace University School of Law with a Doctorate in Law. Reverend Smith concentrated in the area of Estate Law in her practice.She added, "I enjoyed the law and working with people but after awhile it started to feel non-fulfilling. I started working more with the elderly on wills and Medicaid issues and saw the way they were being treated. So I started getting more involved with senior citizens through my church. I wanted to use my talents to help people who could not help themselves. As I got more involved with the church, I found a calling to help people. Once I stood in front of the congregation to give a speech, I was hooked.""In the mid-nineties I was at a crossroads in my career," Minister Smith explained. "I was offered a job in a good mid-sized firm in Westchester and it finally dawned on me what I really wanted to do. It was as if someone hit me over the head to wake me up. It was then I got more involved with the church."After she decided on a career change, she pursued a Masters in Divinity at Drew University and has been a Minister since 1996. "When I started to talk to the congregation, I knew this was the right decision in my life," she said. She went on to work as a student pastor at a church in Kingston and then on to the church in Sullivan County. At her next church she lead a major fundraising campaign. She was approached by the search team in Hasbrouck Heights to come to our town.I felt I had done what I could with the current ministry. When I found this church, through the search committee, both my husband and I knew it was the right move. Unlike other churches where you get assigned, the Reformed Church lets you pretty much go anywhere.""We moved to Hasbrouck Heights during that six day period in October when it rained every day. Everything got soaked, all we could do is laugh about it," Minister Smith explained. Now settled in, she is spending her time getting to know the people of her congregation. "I try to be as energetic as possible," she said. "We have between 70 to 90 people in the congregation. I want to get to know the people of the congregation and find what is meaningful to them.Some of my goals are to work on our educational programs as well as working with young people to see how religion plays a role in their lives. We are trying to create a sense of community of faith that fosters the sense of identity of who we are.With people questioning themselves with their purpose in life, "people don’t follow their calling in life of what they want to do and what will make them happy. It is so sad to see people miserable in the situation they are in, full of unrealistic goals and no sense of direction. I try talking with them to find out what it is that they really want out of life."When asked how she does it all, she said, "I laugh easily and want to put everyone in the congregation at ease and feel the same way. I think my faith has given me that freedom. I love life and I love people. I look at life abundantly and like to grab it with both hands."

We welcome Minister Smith and her family to Hasbrouck Heights and hope they enjoy being part of the community as we do having them become a part of it. ### 


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