The Lay Recognition Dinner that our Regional Synod organizes every other year is about the best piece of Synod work we can experience as individual church members. The Synod does other great things. It manages the Reformed Church Home and the Warwick Conference Center, for example. But nowhere is the Synod as close as during the night of the Lay Recognition Dinner.
This year, the dinner took place on April 8 and again at the Imperia in Somerset. First Reformed Church managed to fill a table of ten. Our honoree was Gary Bernhofer, who also gave a speech that night on inclusive ministry and our work with Walter Boyles. The program brochure had this Bio for Gary:
Gary has been a member of First Reformed Church for 30 years. For much of this time, he has served with his wife Lauren on the Christian Education Committee, which he oftentimes chaired. He taught Sunday School and organized for many years our annual camping trips to Camp Warwick. Together with his wife, Gary has mentored a great number of youth by building personal relationships. This involved lunch invitations, visits to sports games, and other excursions. For many years, he has also served on our Task Force for persons with developmental disabilities. He was pivotal in the confirmation process of Walter Boyles, a young man with Autism. Gary has served numerous terms as Deacon and Elder on Consistory. In recent years, Gary joined the choir of First Reformed Church where he sings as tenor. At the same time, he took on the responsibility of co-chairing the Property & Housekeeping Committee with his son Joshua. The work of this Committee exceeds the task of a traditional Property Committee, because it regularly includes a good part of historic preservation. Here, Gary’s experience with young people has become invaluable, as he regularly leads groups of student volunteers from Rutgers University on work days dedicated to historic preservation. Gary is also a great organizer of congregational festivities like our annual Mother’s Day Breakfast. Finally, we need to mention Gary’s involvement in the Rotating Interfaith Homeless Men’s Shelter, his serving on the Board of Rutgers Protestant Campus Ministries, and his participation in the Mobile Eucharist Team of our church.