The first known missionary to enter North Carolina was Jedediah M. Grant (1816-1856). On 18 May 1838, he reported that he had preached for six months in Stokes, Surrey and Rockingham counties and baptized four people. By 4 February 1840, Grant’s brother, Joshua Grant Jr., and Francis G. Bishop joined him. They baptized another six or eight people. Missionaries also began work in other parts of the state. Before Jedediah Grant left, on 12 July 1845, he had organized a conference of 200 members in seven branches.
Following the exodus of the main body of the Church from Nauvoo in 1846, little work was done in North Carolina until March 1868 when a Southern convert, Henry G. Boyle, reported that he had held 40 public meetings, baptized 30 members and organized the Surrey County Branch. This branch (soon changed to Pilot Mountain) was dissolved by 1870 following the migration to the West of most branch members.
The Southern States Mission was created on 9 October 1876 to include North Carolina. The Pilot Mountain Branch was reorganized on 30 April 1876. The Mount Airy Branch was organized on 28 July 1879 and the Burke County Branch followed on 13 December 1885. Continuation of these branches was sporadic, as converts migrated to the West. Membership in 1894 was 128, with 35 leaving during the previous three years. About 1,000 people from surrounding areas attended a conference held in Radford Cross Roads on 21 November 1897. After 1895, members were encouraged to remain in North Carolina.
Anti-Mormon sentiment in North Carolina was occasionally strong. On 16 January 1906, a newly completed meetinghouse on Harker’s Island was burned, and the missionaries were driven out by a mob. The meetinghouse was replaced in 1936. Occasional mobs gathered in various other locations, but after the turn of the century, public attitudes generally improved and missionaries were offered more freedom to preach.
On 14 May 1921, Andrew Jenson, visiting as assistant Church historian, reported in the Deseret News that there were three branches and 15 Sunday Schools in North Carolina. Meetinghouses were built in Mount Airy, Hampstad, Union Ridge, Wilmington, Goldsboro and Gilreath by 1930. Membership in the state then was 2,725.
Elder Joseph Fielding Smith of the Quorum of the Twelve visited Goldsboro, attending district conference on 3 November 1929. On 18 November 1932, Elder David O. McKay of the Quorum of the Twelve toured the East Central States Mission, visiting North Carolina.
North Carolina was divided into the East and West districts on 17 April 1935. James L. Bennett Sr., the first local member to serve as district president, was sustained on 26 March 1939. The Central District was created 11 July 1948. A large building program was started in 1947 and 16 meetinghouses were subsequently constructed.
On 27 August 1961, the North Carolina Stake, the first in the state, was created in Kinston from the East District. The Central District was organized into the Greensboro Stake on 13 September 1961.
The Raleigh North Carolina Temple was dedicated by President Gordon B. Hinckley on 18 December 1999 in the suburban community of Apex.
In 2002, membership reached 60,984. In 2005, membership reached 68,398.
Andrew Jenson, Encyclopedic History of the Church, 1941; Wallace R. Draughon, History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in North Carolina, 1974; R. Scott Lloyd, “A Christmastime ‘Offering’ to the Lord,” Church News, 25 December 1999; Southern States Mission, Manuscript history and historical report, Church Archives.
- United States List of Stakes of the Church
- United States List of Mormon Temples
- 2010 ChurchNews Almanac-North Carolina