- Protestantism had a first beginning in Brazil when the Dutch briefly occupied Recife (1630-54), but it really took root in 1819, when the Church of England established a small parish for English expatriates in Sào Paulo. A few years later, a German Lutheran church was opened for immigrants who had settled outside of Rio de Janeiro. Over the next century, Germans continued to immigrate and form a number of relatively homogeneous communities, most in southern Brazil. There are now more than a million Brazilian Lutherans, divided between the Evangelical Church of the Lutheran Confession of Brazil (a member of the World Council of Churches) and the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Brazil (aligned with the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod).in 1859, an American Presbyterian minister arrived in Brazil and founded the first Presbyterian church in the country in Rio de Janeiro in 1865. it would eventually spawn three different Presbyterians bodies, the Presbyterian Church of Brazil, the independent Presbyterian Church, and the Conservative Presbyterians Church, which between them now include approximately 700,000 members.Baptists were next to arrive; they have had spectacular results in the 20th century. The Brazilian Baptist Convention (affiliated with the SouTHern Baptist Convention) has approximately 1.5 million members.Methodism had small beginnings in 1835, but only flourished after the arrival in 1876 of Rev. Junias Eastham Newman, a missionary with the Methodist Episcopal Church, South (now a part of the United Methodist Church). Today the Methodist Church of Brazil numbers approximately 130,000 members.Toward the end of the 19th century, the Seventh-day Adventist Church entered Brazil; it already claims almost 1 million members. However, within the larger Protestant community, the older groups have been completely overwhelmed by the growth of Pentecostalism. The Assemblies of God of Brazil began when two Swedish missionaries who had encountered the movement in William H. Durham's church in Chicago settled in Belém, where their initial audience included members of the Baptist church.From their initial effort, Pentecostalism gradually spread, and by 1940 had only some 400,000 members. in the years immediately following World War ii, the growth rate picked up considerably. By 1970, the Assemblies had become the largest non-Catholic church in the country, and by the end of the century reported in excess of 7 million members. It has also become the parent to several other large churches, the most important being the Christian Congregation of Brazil (a movement among Italian immigrants with more than 3 million members) and the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God, with more than 4 million members. The latter has become an international body with churches in 50 or more countries.Pentecostalism has thus become the majority group of the Protestant community. Several newer churches have also experienced spectacular growth, especially the Evangelical Pentecostal Church of Brazil for Christ, the Cornerstone Gospel Church, and the God Is Love Pentecostal Church, which together have more than a million members. With the spectacular spread of Pente-costalism, the growth of the other Evangelical churches, including some Holiness churches, has largely been ignored.The ecumenical scene has been somewhat chaotic, with several competing councils. Many of the older Protestant churches belong to the National Council of Churches in Brazil, itself affiliated with the World Council of Churches. Several major denominations belong to the World Council independently of the Brazil Council. There is also an affiliate of the World Evangelical Alliance, the Brazil National Alliance, to which a spectrum of more conservative churches belong. Counting Protestants in Brazil is difficult because of the high number of doubly affiliated Christians.See also South America.Further reading:■ R. G. Frase, A Sociological Analysis of the Development of Brazilian Protestantism: A Study in Social Change (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton Theological Seminary, thesis, 1975)■ E. P. Velasco, A History of the Christian Evangelical Church in Brazil (Jackson, Miss.: Reformed Theological Seminary, Th.M. thesis, 1992)■ W. Wedemann, A History of Protestant Missions in Brazil, 1850-1914 (Louisville, Ky.: Southern Baptist Theological seminary, thesis, 1977)■ E. Willems, Followers of the New Faith: Culture, Change and the Rise of Protestantism in Brazil and Chile (Nashville, Tenn.: Vanderbilt University Press, 1967).
Encyclopedia of Protestantism. Gordon Melton. 2005.