Community Distinguished Service

During the Kernersville Chamber of Commerce’s Annual Banquet held on Monday, November 8, Dr. Pete Kunkle, First Christian Church senior pastor, received the Arnold G. King Community Distinguished Service Award.
The Arnold G. King Community Distinguished Service Award is an award the Chamber gives each year to recognize an individual for their long-term service to the Kernersville area. This award is the Chamber’s lifetime achievement award.
Allan Younger, director of the Small Business Center at Forsyth Technical Community College and emcee for the evening, explained that the late Arnold King, a patriarch of the Kernersville community, won this award in 1996.
“The award was named after Arnold in 2019 for his work in our community,” he said.
Younger explained that this year’s recipient of the Arnold G. King Community Distinguished Service Award is no stranger to doing big things.
“He is a rock to our community and has been for many, many years. He is a doctor in his field and continues to assist people each and every day from children to adults,” he said. “Bringing people to Jesus and building places for them to worship is a gift that he continues to share with our community.”
After announcing Kunkle’s name as the award recipient, he was presented the award by Mayor Dawn Morgan.
Upon hearing his name, Kunkle said he was very surprised since he thought he was invited to the event to lead the prayer. He added that receiving this particular award meant a lot to him.
“To be considered by the Town and the Chamber to be a servant means a lot,” he said. “Every preacher’s goal is to be a servant to his community and his church, so it was quite a surprise having it come from outside of the church, especially since it’s an award named after Arnold King because we were really good friends.”
Kunkle continued.
“I am very thankful to the community for nominating me for such a high award. I will always try to live by that plaque to be a servant to the people in the community which I live. And I want to thank First Christian for putting up with me for all of these years.”
Kunkle was born in Germany, his dad in the military. Around the age of five years old, he and his family moved to Sebring, Ohio, where he lived until he was 18. From there, he attended Kentucky Christian University, where he earned his undergraduate and graduate degrees. He then continued on to get his doctorate from the London Institute in California.
Kunkle has lived in Kernersville for 40 years, moving here after a friend talked him into coming to the much smaller town at the time to work with a church.
“So much has changed since then,” he remarked. “It’s been a wonderful place to minister to wonderful people.”
Kunkle started off working at Kernersville Church of Christ for five years and has now been at First Christian Church for 35 years.
“I was a planting minister there and also took over a church in High Point, also called First Christian Church. We restarted them and then turned them loose and they became their own church years ago,” he said. “Then, we started the planning for The Crossing (in the Union Cross area) in 2015.”
Through First Christian Church, Kunkle and his congregation have and continue to help many people in and around the Kernersville area.
During the pandemic, First Christian Church’s Table Food Truck has been hard to miss in the community, as well as helping hurricane victims.
“We spent a couple of weeks in Swansboro feeding people affected by hurricanes,” he said. “During COVID, we fed continuously from the Musten & Crutchfield parking lot. A lot of the people we saw were elderly.”
The Table Food Truck also served food from the parking lots at Main Street United Methodist Church and The Crossing Church.
“We also did something with the Kernersville Parks and Recreation Department this past summer, feeding people across the street (from First Christian) in the trailer park,” he said. “We also go to Winston-Salem to assist a lady, Melony, who helps food deprived families and we feed people on Trade Street. There are a lot of food needs there.”
In Greensboro, Kunkle said on Sunday mornings, they go to a park around 6 a.m. and feed around 150 people and are back in time for the 10:30 a.m. church service.
“When the tornado hit in Greensboro, we fed an entire apartment complex that had been hit,” he added.
First Christian Church also does the Operation Christmas Child at both campuses for Samaritan’s Purse, and they do one of the three weekend days during the month for Bethany Café, rotating with two other local churches each month.
“We’ve also done a feeding program, where a group came in and we packed 40,000 meals,” he said, noting that those particular meals were shipped to Haiti to feed hurricane victims.
That’s not all. Within the church, members get together to fulfill needs through other ministries, including Sew to Sow, which ships hand-made clothing they make all over the world and locally. There is also a blanket ministry within the church, as well as the Open Arms Orphan Care Ministry. Kunkle noted that the church is also very involved in missions around the world.
Personally, Kunkle previously had Noah’s Place petting zoo, which he sold during COVID.
“I enjoyed helping kids and we did a lot of stuff with the petting zoo,” he said.
Through his membership with the Kernersville Rotary Club, Kunkle has a lot of support going on medical missions.
“They bought enough desks to supply a school in India and they also helped to drill a well in Zimbabwe, Africa for an area that had no water,” he said.
Through the Kernersville Rotary Club, Kunkle also helps with local efforts, volunteering for the Rotary’s Annual Pancake Supper following the Christmas Parade, as well as their food booth during Spring Folly. He was also paired with a student at Cash Elementary School through the Study Buddies Program, helping the student learn to read and with their math and English work.
Along with his pastoral duties, Kunkle volunteers as the unofficial chaplain of the East Forsyth High School football team, where he encourages the kids and the coach. He also volunteers his time as the chaplain for the Kernersville Police Department.
Reflecting on all that he has done in the community, Kunkle said he feels his biggest accomplishment has been the privilege to stay in the Kernersville community and minister to the people, being received by them and counting them as his friends.
“A lot of ministers never get that privilege and I think that is huge,” he remarked.
As a volunteer and a pastor, Kunkle said what he enjoys most is building relationships with people.
“When I joined Rotary, I didn’t know a whole lot of people in the community, and it has opened doors to meet people,” he said. “One of the best parts of ministry is the relationships you develop with people. There have just been a lot of people who have passed through my life that are community leaders that have helped me a lot, given me direction, and sometimes wise counsel. It’s been really good.”
In his free time, Kunkle enjoys fishing and traveling, along with spending time with his family – his wife, Kathy, and their daughter, Heidi. They also have one granddaughter, Isabella. Kunkle added that he used to enjoy riding his motorcycle, which he rode across America three times. He has since sold his motorcycle to help build The Crossing.

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