Honoring Paul Bentley Kern (1882-1953) On the 130th Anniversary of His Birth—June 16, 2012
The Kern Building in Nashville, one of the two main buildings that house Discipleship Ministries, The Upper Room, and The General Board of Higher Education and Ministry of The United Methodist Church, is named after Methodist Bishop Paul Bentley Kern. Few staff at Discipleship Ministries knew much about Bishop Kern or why our building was named for him. I found time to learn more about Bishop Kern during a three-month study leave taken during the spring of 2007.
I discovered that he was buried in a Nashville cemetery, and I visited the site. I found and made contact with a number of family members, including his only surviving child, now ninety-two years old. He has numerous descendants, many of whom have distinguished themselves as clergy, educators, and physicians. He leaves a lasting and impressive legacy in his family's accomplishments.
I have not attempted to write a biography nor has my research been deep or scholarly. I sought only to learn something about Bishop Kern, who he was, what he accomplished, and how our building came to share his name. I am most grateful to members of Bishop Kern’s family with whom I spoke and who provided information and memories. I’ve learned enough to know that I’ll be reading more of his work and learning more about him.
It is appropriate that I make this information available this week, in celebration of the 105th wedding anniversary of Bishop and Mrs. Kern (June 11, 2012) and the Bishop’s 130th birthday (June 16, 2012).