The history of the Waldensian Presbyterian Church is so intertwined with the history of the town of Valdese that it is impossible to study one without embracing the other. In education and industry, as well as in the religious life of the community, the Church has been and continues to be the center of Waldensian life in Valdese. The "Celebration of the Edict of Emancipation" is an annual event at the Waldensian Presbyterian Church in Valdese. Commemorating the granting of political and civil liberties to the Waldenses, this tradition began on the night of February 17, 1848 as the villages throughout the valleys of Italy lit fires to celebrate the rights they had finally been given. Today's celebration concludes with a bonfire. Each Christmas, the Presbyterian Church stages an outdoor, living drama reenacting the story of Jesus' birth.
The Waldensian Presbyterian Church (1896-99) was erected by Waldensian settlers who first arrived in Valdese, North Carolina, in 1893. The rich religious and cultural heritage of the Waldenses has its origins in the Cottian Alps of Italy, where this anti-Catholic religious sect endured persecution for over 600 years. The stuccoed masonry structure, which was erected from plans drawn by a Mr. Munsch, embodies building traditions practiced in the Waldensian valleys of Northern Italy and bears a strong resemblance to the Roman churches of that region The church serves as a symbol of unity with the Waldensian community, which has a strong .cultural identity.