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‘God wants me to love people': What prepared Sister Tracy Y. Browning to be the first Black woman to serve in a general presidency


Sister Tracy Y. Browning was about 15 years old when her mother saw a Latter-day Saint advertisement offering a free copy of the Book of Mormon on a late night television infomercial. She requested one.

Within a short time, missionaries knocked on her door, presented a Book of Mormon and began teaching her the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Although Tracy lived in New Jersey with her father, she visited her mother in New York often and observed with curiosity as her mother progressed toward baptism. 

She had attended a Presbyterian church with her grandmother and learned foundational Christian beliefs. Now her mother was adding to that knowledge. Soon Tracy began attending Latter-day Saint Sunday worship services with her mother. 

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Sister Tracy Y. Browning will become second counselor in the Primary general presidency on Aug. 1, 2022,

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

The culminating experience came when mother and daughter attended the Hill Cumorah Pageant. Standing in the Sacred Grove, attending church and listening to messages of the gospel in new ways moved her. Tracy told her mother she was ready to learn more.

“She put me in front of the missionaries very quickly after that,” Sister Browning said. 

Within a year, she was baptized and knew in her heart it was the right decision.

“I was happy,” she said. “I felt a confirmation that what I did was the right thing and what God wanted me to do.”

Sister Browning was sustained as second counselor in the Primary general presidency during general conference on April 2, 2022. She is the first Black woman to serve in one of the Church’s general presidencies. She views her new calling as an opportunity to bless and minister to all of God’s children.

“I am a daughter of God, one of his Black daughters, and because I’m Black, I’ve had very specific cultural experiences that influence my perspective, my leadership and my faith,” Sister Browning said. “I know that is complementary in His kingdom. I’ve learned that as I join the notes and chords of my particular life experiences with the other members of the Church, who bring their own unique compositions, we create harmony. We harmonize because we’re focused in the same direction. There will always be a richness to our harmony because we aren’t all singing the same note. But we are all singing songs of the gospel of Jesus Christ. He needs all His children to join His choir and lift our voices in unity.”

I’ve learned that as I join the notes and chords of my particular life experiences with the other members of the Church, who bring their own unique compositions, we create harmony.

‘Not just a Sunday experience’

Tracy Yeulande Browning was born in New Rochelle, New York, on Oct. 9, 1976, to Clive Adams and Sharon Cox.

Sister Browning lived in Jamaica until she was 11 years old, then returned to live in New Jersey and New York, where she was baptized at age 16 in 1992.

As a new member, aligning her life to new gospel-centered behaviors became an early focus. After learning about aspects of the Word of Wisdom, Sister Browning committed to stop drinking various types of tea when she joined the Church, knowing that sacrifice was small compared to the important covenants she had made with the Savior. But the change was more difficult than she imagined.

“Wouldn’t it be the case that every time I walked down the street, there would be a billboard for a new flavor of iced tea? There were stacks of beverages everywhere I looked. It was a temptation. The adversary was trying to pull me backwards and test my commitment forward,” she said. “But I had personally made a commitment to put this on the altar as a sacrifice, and I worked really hard to honor that.”

What she most appreciated following her baptism was the immediate acceptance and kindness demonstrated by her new Latter-day Saint family in Queens, New York. For her, it was ministering before there was ministering.

“I felt very early on that I had a home in the Church of Jesus Christ because the members went out of their way to exemplify that in their conduct with me, in their welcoming, in their willingness to teach me and invite me to join in the work,” Sister Browning said. “As a result of that, I’ve been able to use that experience and have all those feelings to share with others who might be interested to learn how they might minister to others.”

Over the next few years, Sister Browning maintained a job in Manhattan while attending St. John’s University. But the Church remained the “brightest spot” in her life. 

“Church was not just a Sunday experience,” she said. “I had so many relationships that kept me looking forward to the Sabbath. I was also looking forward to activities during the week or just interacting with members in some way. Those relationships were so important to me because through them I kept being pointed back to the Savior.”

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Sister Susan H. Porter, general president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints' Primary, center, poses for a photo with Sister Amy A. Wright, first counselor, left, and Sister Tracy Y. Browning, second counselor, right, at the Church Office Building in Salt Lake City on Monday, April 4, 2022. They will begin serving in the Primary general presidency on Aug. 1, 2022.

Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

Another group Sister Browning conversed with regularly were the missionaries. Although she didn’t serve a full-time mission, her life during these years was filled with missionary experiences as she often accompanied sisters and elders serving in her area to share her conversion story and befriend anyone interested in the Church. She delighted in her role of helping each person to feel welcome and comfortable at Church meetings. She saw many join the Church.

“The experience taught me how to articulate my testimony. I knew how to bear testimony because I was doing a lot of it,” she said. “That was a special time with special people. There was a spirit of conversion and gathering. It was a tight group of Church members and was very formative and foundational in my early years. My testimony was strongly influenced because of what I was observing and learning from the lives of the members and investigators at that time.”

Read more: Meet the new Relief Society and Primary general presidencies sustained during April 2022 general conference

Marriage and family

Working with the missionaries led Sister Browning to meet her future husband. Brady Browning was serving in another area but met Sister Browning through a mutual friend. Sometime later, Sister Browning and her friend were invited to stay at Brady’s home while on a trip out west to visit old missionary friends who had returned home.

Brady Browning returned home from his mission, followed shortly by Sister Browning and her friend, and since he didn’t have anything else planned, the newly returned missionary tagged along with the two women to weddings and other activities.

“That time became important because we grew closer on this road trip. We recognized that we wanted to spend more time together,” she said. “After that trip, we embarked on long-distance dating for months on end, with him flying to New York and me flying to Utah a few times. Eventually, he proposed.”

The Brownings’ Salt Lake Temple wedding day was filled with special feelings and memories.

“There was a feeling of closeness with more family than was just in the room,” she said. “There were people on both sides of the veil who were invested in our marriage, loved us and were there to celebrate our union.”

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Sister Tracy Yeulande Browning, second counselor in the Primary general presidency, and her husband, Brother Brady Browning, at the Relief Society Building in Salt Lake City on Wednesday, June 8, 2022.

Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

Becoming a working mother of two children provided faith-strengthening growth and a variety of challenging and rewarding experiences for Sister Browning and her husband. 

Their oldest daughter, Morgan, was born prematurely. Sister Browning remembers feeling overwhelmed as a new mother who had to leave her baby at the hospital for a time, then faced more stressful situations in bringing their daughter home. When Morgan was in a position to grow and be healthy, the young parents recognized they would both need to work to make ends meet. 

“We did a lot of praying and relying on the Lord to answer moment-to-moment questions and help us navigate decisions,” Sister Browning said. “We came to understand what were opportunities and what things were not as important.”

Some years later, the Brownings felt prompted to expand their family through the adoption process. They brought home a son named Cameron, thanks to many prayers and the support of family and friends.

“We fiercely love our children,” she said. “They are most precious to us and feel like gifts from God.”

‘Love people’

Sister Browning discovered another heavenly gift through years of Church service in a variety of callings — how to overlook differences and see the best in others. 

“I know that God wants me to love people,” she said. “If I have to think of a gift that He continues to give me, I’m grateful that I do find it easy to love people.”

A personal spiritual experience prepared Sister Browning for her call to the Primary general presidency. 

On the morning of her call, Sister Browning received a blessing from her husband. Afterward, she felt prompted to read the scriptures. She opened the New Testament to chapter 18 in Matthew and read how God feels about His little children. This led the couple to have “the sweetest and most tender conversation” about the natural faith of children. A strong spiritual feeling reminded her of the scriptural teaching to be as little children.

A short time later when her call was extended, Sister Browning was “stunned beyond words.”

“How good is God to give me a confirmation of something beforehand, not recognizing that the impression to open the scriptures to what I thought was an arbitrary chapter was my confirmation of this assignment,” said Sister Browning, who said she has had very limited experience serving in the Primary. “But I know that this is what God wants me to do right now, and knowing that gives me confidence. For the rest of it, I’m going to rely on Him to help me out.”

Biographical information for Sister Browning

Family: Born in New Rochelle, New York, on Oct. 9, 1976, to Clive Adams and Sharon Cox. She married Brady Browning in the Salt Lake Temple on May 2, 1997. They have two children.

Education: Studied at St. John’s University.

Employment: She has worked in financial services for 15 years and is now a director in the Church’s Publishing Services Department.

Church service: Will serve as second counselor in the Primary general presidency starting Aug. 1. Member of the Relief Society general advisory council. Has served in numerous Church callings, including ward and stake Relief Society presidency counselor, Relief Society teacher, various Young Women responsibilities, and Sunday School instructor.

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Newly called counselor in the Relief Society general presidency Sister Kristin M. Yee, center, is joined by Sister J. Anette Dennis, to her left, and Sister Tracy Y. Browning, to her right, during the Church's 192nd Annual General Conference at the Conference Center in Salt Lake City on Saturday, April 2, 2022.

Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

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