In the News

The story of the first Portuguese-speaking branch in North Carolina

‘It was an answer from the Lord, no doubt,’ says Brazilian member

Members of the Matthews 2nd Branch (Portuguese) of the Charlotte North Carolina South Stake

Members of the Matthews 2nd Branch (Portuguese) of the Charlotte North Carolina South Stake pose for a photo on Sunday, Nov. 6, 2022, after the branch’s first sacrament meeting.

Provided by President Bryan P. Jenkins

The story of the first Portuguese-speaking branch in North Carolina

‘It was an answer from the Lord, no doubt,’ says Brazilian member

Members of the Matthews 2nd Branch (Portuguese) of the Charlotte North Carolina South Stake

Members of the Matthews 2nd Branch (Portuguese) of the Charlotte North Carolina South Stake pose for a photo on Sunday, Nov. 6, 2022, after the branch’s first sacrament meeting.

Provided by President Bryan P. Jenkins

When Regina Queiroz and her family moved to Charlotte, North Carolina, four years ago, she looked online to find a Portuguese-speaking unit of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

The closest congregation was a few hundred miles away in a neighboring state. 

Born and raised in Brazil, she tried attending a Spanish-speaking unit but struggled to understand. She resolved to attend the local English ward instead.

“I prayed that there could be something in Portuguese,” she said. 

Last year Queiroz’s prayer was answered when a Portuguese-speaking group was established in June. The group officially became a branch Nov. 6, 2022 — the Matthews 2nd Branch of the Charlotte North Carolina South Stake.

“It was an answer from the Lord, no doubt,” Queiroz told the Church News. “This is the testimony I have, that it was an answer from the Lord. He hears our prayers.”


Members of the Portuguese-speaking group in Charlotte, North Carolina, pose for a photo after their first sacrament meeting on June 12, 2022.

Provided by Canyon Nichols

Queiroz is not the only Portuguese speaker in the Charlotte area to find strength in gathering with people of a shared language and culture while seeking to build faith in Jesus Christ through His restored gospel.

As President Bryan P. Jenkins, president of the Charlotte North Carolina South Stake, visited Portuguese-speaking members and friends, he learned that many felt they were the only ones in the area. “For them to find out that there were other members of the Church, and a church here that would have services in Portuguese, has just been wonderful,” he said.

“Being in a new country, in a new culture, and trying to get by can be disheartening and lonely and very challenging. And to have a community together, and even more, a community of faith, it’s just been a blessing. There’s so much joy and happiness. ...

“It’s the first such language unit in the state. There are others in some neighboring states, but to have something here is just wonderful,” President Jenkins said.

How the branch started

President Jenkins, who served in Brazil as a young missionary and speaks Portuguese, explained how the branch began: “Over 2022, as part of our ongoing community and neighbor outreach, we discovered a vibrant and growing population of native Portuguese speakers within our stake boundaries in the Greater Charlotte area.” 

Working with missionaries from the North Carolina Charlotte Mission, he said, “We found members of the Church who had moved here from Brazil and other Portuguese-speaking countries. We found new friends and neighbors that were just so eager to gather together, looking for faith and for family in a new country.

“And we really felt the spirit of Doctrine and Covenants section 90 verse 11, that in this day here in Charlotte, our brothers and sisters would hear the gospel in their own tongues, in their own language, through those who are ordained unto this power.”

A missionary’s story

One of the missionaries President Jenkins worked with was Elder Canyon Nichols. Nichols, who has since completed his mission and returned home in August 2022, was serving in a Spanish-speaking area in the Charlotte South stake when he and his companion decided to start learning Portuguese on their own so they could teach a few Brazilians. 

Elder Nichols was transferred to an English-speaking area in the stake, and he and his companion met more people from Brazil. “We started meeting tons of Brazilians and learning more Portuguese,” said Nichols, who is from Farmington, Utah.

They worked with members to plan an activity at the local meetinghouse and invited every Portuguese-speaking person they could. “There were about 13 active Brazilian members in the Charlotte South stake, but only a few of them knew each other. So we were able to connect those members,” he said.


Portuguese-speaking members and friends pose for a photo during a Portuguese activity on May 21, 2022, in Charlotte, North Carolina, a few weeks before the group was organized.

Provided by Canyon Nichols

Under the direction of the mission president, Elder Nichols and his companion opened the first Portuguese-speaking area in the mission. A week after the group was formed, they had their first baptism — a friend of Regina Queiroz named Gleyce.

“We were helping them do missionary work,” Nichols said of the members, “and they were super excited. They were giving us tons of referrals. … The group grew very quickly and everyone was energetic.”

After his mission ended, Nichols returned to Charlotte to be with the members when the group became a branch. 

“There were so many members that were definitely sent by the Lord to live in that area, that were Brazilian or that spoke Portuguese that ended up being in leadership positions or were huge ministers or just a huge help in general. … 

“Everything with the branch was a miracle, that everything happened how it did and that people moved in. From this I definitely know that the Lord is in the details and that God has bigger plans for all of us,” Nichols said.


The first baptism in the Portuguese-speaking group in Charlotte, North Carolina, on June 19, 2022.

Provided by Regina Queiroz

The branch president’s story

Andrew Allen and his wife, Muriel Allen, who both served missions in Brazil and speak fluent Portuguese, weren’t planning to stay in North Carolina after he finished his master’s program at NC State University. Then he got a job offer in Charlotte, and they decided to take it.

The house they planned to rent fell through at the last minute. Scrambling for a place to live, they found an apartment near the suburb of Matthews, where un​be​knownst to them, lived some Brazilian members of the Church. 

They soon met the missionaries, who helped them move in, and discovered they were learning Portuguese and teaching some Brazilians. The Allens immediately jumped in to help.

The Portuguese-speaking group was formed a month or so later. When the branch was organized in November, Andrew Allen was called as its first branch president.

“It’s been really cool to see these families that were part of the same stake, or even neighboring stakes, that didn’t really know of each other come together and form a community, form a family. … They’re able to be nurtured by the word of God and actually learn and participate fully in their language,” he said.

Muriel Allen, who serves as first counselor in the Relief Society presidency, said the experience has strengthened her testimony that the Lord wants His children to have the gospel in their own language.

“This is the Lord’s true restored Church, the Restoration is real ,and it’s happening,” she said. “And the Lord has a hand in it. He wants everyone possible to hear about the gospel of Jesus Christ.”


First Portuguese temple trip to the Columbia South Carolina Temple on Aug. 16, 2022. The Charlotte North Carolina South Stake is part of the Columbia temple district.

Provided by Canyon Nichols

The future of the branch

President Jenkins commented on the growth of the branch since November: “In the short time of our Portuguese organization, there have already been eight baptisms, with many more to come. …

“We think there is a great opportunity for continued growth, with the trends we’re seeing with the native Portuguese-speaking population we already have here in Charlotte, and the trends that we see with increasing numbers of people from Brazil and others moving here. … Really the sky is the limit. We see this becoming a ward and continuing to grow and progress and be strong.”

He added: “We encourage our members to come and visit, even if they don’t speak the language, because you can feel the spirit of the gathering of Israel.”

The Matthews 2nd Branch is one of three language units in the Charlotte North Carolina South Stake. The other two are the Monroe 2nd Branch and Park Crossing Ward, both Spanish-speaking. All three language units were established in 2022. 

President Jenkins said as a stake they have united in prayer for these language units.

“We see miracles all around with bringing the gospel to our brothers and sisters in their language,” he said.

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