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Structure and provision of services in Black churches in New Haven, Connecticut.

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  • 1Department of Sociology and Survey Research Center, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor 48106, USA.


Historically, Black (or African American) churches have played a central role as a center of religious and political life and also as a provider of human services and a healing community. This article examined the extent to which African American churches in 1 Northeastern urban environment are involved in the delivery of health and human service programs to their communities. It also explored how comfortable Black clergy are in referring their parishioners to the formal mental health system and identified the actual level of referrals. In addition, the analyses considered the individual and organizational characteristics that predict variations in the levels of support services and the likelihood of referral. Analyses revealed that African American churches deliver a broad range of services to the community. More than two thirds of the clergy feel comfortable in making a referral to a mental health agency or professional, and more than half have actually made a referral. Both service delivery and referral levels varied by several clergy and congregational characteristics. The implications of these findings for research and health policy are considered.

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