Original Church (Known as the Antique House) was a rented house on Main Street, next to the historic Korner's Folly
(Letter from Carol Royals
In the summer of 1968, the idea of a church of our own was conceived. Beverly Everette and I were helping Sister Kathleen and Sister Marin Perpetua teach Summer Bible School for the Kernersville area children. One day during the course of conversation, Beverly and I commented on how hard it was for Kernersville area Catholics to commute to Winston-Salem and what a wonderful blessing it would be to have a church of our own. The two sisters immediately offered us a Solution...why didn't we two just take it upon ourselves to start a church in the Kernersville area. So, without any more prompting, we got started on what turned out to be a very rewarding job. In the summer of 1969, I asked Father Newman, Pastor of Our Lady of Mercy Church in Winston-Salem (Where most Catholics from Kernersville were attending) if we could have his approval to try and start a church of our own. He told us he doubted we would have luck, but if we were able to get at least 50 people together, he would consider that enough for a mission church. The next day we started calling people. It took quite a few days, many phone calls to track down families. We called every name we could come up with that we thought were Catholics from this area, and spent as much time investigating the parish lists of all the Catholic churches in Winston-Salem. But it paid off. In about a month we came up with a little over our magic number of 50. These were people who said they would be glad to attend and support a church in Kernersville. Our next step was to find a location and we started calling again.
The only available space we could come up with was an old country store building on Vernon Street. It was very small, very dirty, in disrepair and very inadequate but we were happy to have something ...and with the encouragement of Father Bill Pharr, Pastor of St. Benedict's parish in Winston-Salem, who at this point enthusiastically came to our aid...we started negotiations for the building and preparations for a big clean-up campaign. However, during this time the Holy Spirit must have been looking over us. Cecile Lynch was having lunch one day with Mrs. Shore and Mrs. Shouse, and casually mentioned that the Catholics in the area needed a building that would be suitable to use as a church. Mrs.
Shouse immediately said that she had been looking for someone very special to rent her former antique shop and this was a perfect solution to her...a church! We had our new church home, and a very beautiful one.
At the end of July we had a meeting at our home with the following people
attending: Tom and Cecile Lynch, Mac and Frances McGowan, Beverly Everette, Gorena Lako, and Gene Gillis. Also Father Pharr who was our constant source of encouragement. We sent a letter to the Bishop requesting that we be allowed to have weekly Mass on Sunday and to be classified as the Kernersville Catholic
Mission. Our request was approved and on the first of August we had our first meeting in Mrs. Shouse's former antique shop with the following families represented...Royals, Everette, Lynch, McGowan, Gillis, Lako, Trute, Skeen and Hernandez. We set up plans for our first mass, which was to be held on September 7th. Everyone pitched in to help clean our church in preparation for our big day. Father Pharr went to the other churches in Winston-Salem and begged or borrowed the necessary furniture we would need...chairs, altar, crucifix, altar vessels, etc. It was all a labor of love and on a beautiful, warm sun shiny Sunday, September 7, 1969, we had our First Mass. Beverly and I think we are both very silly, but may I add at this point that we both sat through the whole mass with tears streaming down our faces. You can't imagine our joy and thankfulness. I have never attended mass in our church since that first
Sunday that my heart did not fill up with love and joy for our beautiful church. It is as much a part of me as one of my own children, and the day we had our first Mass, was as poignant as the day each one of my children were born. Beverly and I both feel there will never be a church quite as wonderful as ours...there is a feeling there you will find nowhere else.
The following people were in attendance at our First Mass. Jack Everette and Tom Lynch - Ushers, Jerry Royals - Lector, Peter Gillis and Robby Hernandez - Altar Boys. Mass was held at 12 noon, with Sunday School preceding it at 11 (Yes, Sunday School was held on our very first Sunday, September 7th). Our first enrollment figures were approximately 72, with about 34 for Sunday School Class.
I would like to add another memorable story at this point. Bev and I both wanted an organ for our first services...so we went to the best place we thought we could get a good organ at a cheap price...a pawn shop. We found just the right thing, a little console organ for only $99.00 and with no money between us, we charged it on my charge card with the understanding that we could pay it off in 90 days. We proudly loaded our organ, and took it to church and set it up, ready for our first Sunday. We raided enough money to pay for our organ by selling my husband's rotary tiller, Gene and Chrissie Gillis' baby stroller, and Beverly's old wringer washer and television. We are proud to say that we paid off our bill in two
weeks ...glad to abolish our first debt in a hurry.
Besides the folding chairs from the Catholic churches in Winston-Salem, we also had some pews donated to us by the Piney Grove Fire Department, through the efforts of Mr. Joe Mangum (Who later became our first convert). These pews were used originally in the First Piney Grove Methodist Church. Our altar draperies were donated by the Hernandez family. Father Pharr gave us a hand-carved Crucifix to use, which was his, given to him by a close friend.