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Local Medina County News

‘I pray not to be deceived’ before taking bench, judge says

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    Medina MunicipalJudge Gary Werner was the guest speaker Thursday at the Mayor's Prayer Breakfast at Williams on the Lake. Thursday was National Day of Prayer.

    BOB FINNAN / GAZETTE

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    Elizabeth Gilbert, an eighth-grader at St. Francis Xavier School, sings "His Eye is on the Sparrow" on Thursday at the Mayor's Prayer Breakfast at Williams on the Lake. Thursday is National Day of Prayer.

    BOB FINNAN / GAZETTE

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    Medina Municipal Court Judge Gary Werner was the guest speaker Thursday at the Mayor's Prayer Breakfast at Williams on the Lake. Thursday was National Day of Prayer.

    BOB FINNAN / GAZETTE

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    Piper Hadad, a fifth-grader at St. Francis Xavier School, sings "God Help the Outcasts" on Thursday at the Mayor's Prayer Breakfast at Williams on the Lake. Thursday was National Day of Prayer.

    BOB FINNAN / GAZETTE

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MEDINA — Medina Municipal Court Judge Gary F. Werner had strict instructions from his wife.

She told him he was not permitted to weep while delivering his presentation at the Mayor’s Prayer Breakfast on Thursday at Williams on the Lake.

Werner held up well during the National Day of Prayer event, but got a little emotional toward the end of his talk.

“I’m a softie,” he told the audience of about 50.

Medina Mayor Dennis Hanwell called Werner a “man of God.”

“It’s good to know we have men of faith in these positions of city and county government,” Hanwell said.

Hanwell told the numerous pastors in the audience that if they ever needed a stand-in, Werner would be a good fit.

“I don’t preach from the bench,” Werner said. “I follow the law. I accept my oath. I take it very seriously.”

He’s in his second year as municipal judge. But has a catalog of public service that goes back more than a decade. He was Brunswick’s mayor from 2010-13, vice mayor from 2006-07, Ward 1 councilman from 2004-07 and councilman-at-Large from 2008-09.

“I’m keenly aware of the powerful position I hold,” Werner said.

He said he prays before he takes his seat behind the bench in court.

“I pray not to be deceived,” Werner said.

He said people stand before him in court every day with the same excuses. They tell him they’ve been reformed and will never be in court again.

He tells them, “I don’t want you to come back.”

Numerous people have substance-abuse problems in the court system.

“There are plenty of qualified people out there to help you,” he tells them.

For those scheduled to go to jail, Werner reminds then of what they potentially leave behind.

“Those people who need you, need you to stay out of jail,” Werner said he tells them.

He said the natural geek in him has attracted him to study religion and accept a faith in God as part of his life.

“My faith points to things far beyond my understanding of it,” he said. “There’s a whole lot more that we don’t know than what we do. I’m not saying I have it down. It’s an active process going on inside of me.”

Werner said he felt privileged to be part of the National Day of Prayer. The day is an annual observance held on the first Thursday of May, inviting people of all faiths to pray for the nation. The United States Congress created it in 1952 with a joint resolution, and President Harry S. Truman signed it into law.

During Hanwell’s prayer breakfast, St. Francis Xavier students Piper Hadad, a fifth-grader, and Elizabeth Gilbert, an eighth-grader, sang to the group. Nazarene Church Pastor Pete Ryder gave the closing prayer.

Local events also included a noon prayer service at St. Francis Xavier Church, featuring Uganda’s Sanyuka Children’s Choir, and an evening prayer service at Cornerstone Chapel.

Contact reporter Bob Finnan at (330) 721-4049 or rfinnan@medina-gazette.com.
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