If it weren’t for the Kerners, the Moravian Church may never have come to Kernersville. Of course, the town itself may still have the name Dobson’s Crossroads.
The children of Joseph Kerner — John F., Philip, and Salome Harmon — were members of Friedland, and by the 1840’s they were having their minister pay regular preaching visits at their crossroads seven miles distant. After the Civil War the Kerners renewed their interest, and on July 15, 1866, a meeting in Kernersville “determined . . . to establish a branch of the Brethren’s Church at that place.” In response the Southern Province purchased a lot in town from John F. Kerner, and a fine brick church was erected. Bishop George Frederic Bahnson consecrated the church on November 10, 1867, in services attended by nearly all the ministers of the Southern Province. Bishop Bahnson reported that “much interest was manifested by the people in town and in the neighborhood.”
The new congregation was still served by the Friedland minister until 1870 when Br. Isaac Prince was called as first resident pastor. A parsonage, completed in 1874, was home to Christian Lewis Rights, who was pastor from 1873 to 1891. In the early 20th century, Kernersville went for 11 years without an assigned minister, until in 1922 Walser H. Allen, Sr., began his remarkable 25-year pastorate.
A Sunday school annex with lovefeast kitchen was built in 1925. A new spire arose and the church was extensively renovated in 1932. A Christian education building, long planned but delayed by World War II, was completed in 1952, and Br. Allen came from Pennsylvania to attend its dedication on November 18, 1956. The 1867 church received another renovation in 1962, in plenty of time for Kernersville to celebrate its centennial with Br. Allen delivering the anniversary sermon on November 12, 1967. A new parsonage followed in 1970, and Br. Allen probably appreciated that it was “fully electric” and air conditioned, since he had lived in the 1874 parsonage.
On its 128th anniversary on November 8, 1992, Kernersville dedicated its new sanctuary. The 1867 church, meanwhile, has been designated a historic landmark as one of the oldest structures in the town of Kernersville.