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J Natl Med Assoc. 1984 May; 76(5): 477–483.
PMCID: PMC2561772

The Role of the Black Church in Community Medicine


Historically, the black church has been the preserver and the perpetuator of the black ethos, the radix from which its defining values and norms have been generated, and the autonomous social institution that has provided order and meaning to the black experience in the United States. The traditional ethic of community-oriented service in the black ethos is highly compatible with the communitarian ethic of community medicine. Given this congruence and the much-documented fact that black Americans are an at-risk and under-served group regarding health status indicators and the provision of preventive health care, respectively, the black church is an extremely relevant locus for the practice of community medicine. A number of health programs based in or affiliated with the black church have operated throughout the United States, and these programs, along with the corpus of literature comprising conceptual articles favorable toward such a role for the black church, are reviewed within four areas of community medicine: primary care delivery, community mental health, health promotion and disease prevention, and health policy.

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