A glimmering beacon of community and faith, Kernersville Moravian Church emerged on the heels of the Civil War at a ceremony attended by many of the area’s 150 residents.
After an extensive renovation more than 150 years later, the chapel on South Main Street will once again be unveiled at a ceremony reminiscent of the church’s roots.
“It’s not a new chapel, it’s the original chapel given a little spit-shine,” said Susan Kerner, whose ancestors donated the land to build the chapel in 1867. “The beauty of it is it’s old and new. It’s refreshed.”
After a five-month closure, the chapel will be rededicated at a service Sept. 15 that pulls from the scripture, liturgy and music selections used at the chapel’s 25-year anniversary in 1892.
Many former pastors will also attend the Sunday-morning service and luncheon to celebrate the chapel’s revitalization.
“We’ve completely redone the inside of the historic chapel from ceiling to floor,” said Criss Hiatt, chair of the church’s board of trustees. “It’s really an amazing transformation.”
With a heavy emphasis on preserving the history of the church, renovations began in June to update the interior of the 1867 chapel.
The original brass chandelier — a fixture in the chapel since it was donated by Jule Kerner in 1892 — was restored and reconfigured with LED bulbs to match the other energy-efficient lights that were installed in the space.
The carpets were stripped to expose the chapel’s original hardwood flooring, and the chapel’s pews were reupholstered.
“We left as much of the original as we could,” Hiatt said. “With the renovations, the chapel should last a very long time.”
The chapel — which is used for early services, weddings and funerals — closed in mid-April after parts of the ceiling began to fall apart, she said. In the interim, all services were held in the sanctuary, which was built in 1992 to accommodate the growing congregation.
As part of the chapel renovation, which is set to be completed next week, the ceiling and walls of the chapel were reinforced and repainted.
“Around the organ, there were flakes of plaster, so we just didn’t feel comfortable,” Hiatt said. “We’re very, very happy with the end result.”
Additions have been made to the original building over the years, including a Sunday school annex, lovefeast kitchen, education building, sanctuary and, most recently, the replacement of the organ in 2007.
But the summer project marks the chapel’s most extensive interior renovation in its 152-year history, said Sylvia Lewis, the church’s wedding director.
“It’s just breathtaking. The whole place just sparkles, especially with the stained-glass windows,” said Lewis, a member for more than 20 years. “It’s really been given a new life.”
Riddled in history, the Kernersville chapel has remained a fixture on South Main Street since John Frederick Kerner donated the land to the Moravian congregation in the 1860s.
Since then, six generations of Kerners have attended the church, each watching it grow and change, Susan Kerner said, adding that the renovation has been a great step forward.
“I grew up sitting in that church every Sunday, so this is lovely to see, both honoring the past and preparing for the future,” she said.
During the renovation, a 50-year time capsule was placed in the wall that includes instructions on how to make a chicken pot pie, church bulletins from as far back as the 1970s and photos.
The capsule will be opened in 2069, following the church’s 200-year anniversary.
“There were so many facets of this project. We had to be diligent to get it right and, most of all, glorify our Lord,” Lewis said. “I think it all came together perfectly.”