logo-full arrow-left arrow-right magnify story members projects twitter facebook youtube download

The Black Church, HIV and Health among Black Canadian Communities

An online forum on the role of Black churches in addressing HIV and promoting healthy Black communities

A free event for participants across Canada on Saturday, May 15, 1:00pm-3:15pm (Eastern Time).


A Call to Serve is an online forum for Black people to explore the intersections of faith, health and wellbeing among Black Canadians, especially in relation to HIV. The forum comprises short presentations and discussion about (a) HIV in Black Canadian communities, and (b) how Black churches may enhance community efforts to address HIV and promote health.

The term “Black church” refers to churches led by Black pastors that serve congregations that are predominantly Black (including churches established purposely to serve Black congregations).

This online event is an outcome of Black PRAISE, which was a program developed and implemented by Black churches, community-based organizations and researchers in 2014-2019. The program engaged Black churches to strengthen congregants’ critical awareness of HIV among Black communities.1-6


Black PRAISE United and CHABAC (Canadian HIV/AIDS Black, African and Caribbean Network) are jointly organizing this online discussion on the role of Black churches in community responses to HIV and related issues among Black Canadians. Black PRAISE United comprises representatives from Black churches, community-based organizations, and researchers who developed and tested the Black PRAISE program among six churches in Ontario. CHABAC brings together organizations and individuals that are promoting community-based responses to HIV among Black Canadians.


The primary audience includes: Black people of faith (especially pastors and congregants from Black churches in Canada); Black people who work with Black communities to address HIV and related issues; Black community stakeholders; and other Black people of faith.


Churches that were established by or for Black communities in Canada have been active since the 18th century. These churches addressed religious needs and issues of racial justice among Black communities that were excluded from or overlooked by white/European churches. However, the extent to which Black Canadian churches mobilized Black communities to strengthen their wellbeing has not been extensively documented.7-9

This event promotes critical reflection on the role and contribution of the Black Church in building healthy Black Canadian communities. In 2014-2019, six Black-led churches with predominantly Black congregations in the Greater Toronto Area and Ottawa collaborated with a team of mainly Black researchers to develop and implement the Black PRAISE initiative.

Black PRAISE was an intervention to strengthen congregants’ critical awareness of HIV among Black Canadian communities. The collaborators developed, implemented and assessed the intervention between October 2016 and March 2017. The research team organized a conference for the researchers, participating churches and community partners in 2019 to discuss the results, experiences and outcomes, related to Black PRAISE. “A Call to Serve” emerged from discussions among a small working group of pastors, congregants and researchers (Black PRAISE United) formed after the conference.


The objectives of the event are to: 1) Discuss the role of Black churches in addressing HIV and promoting health for Black Canadians; 2) Discuss current trends and issues related to HIV in Black communities in Black communities; and 3) Identify how Black faith communities may be strengthen their involvement in Black community responses to HIV


The Black PRAISE research team, participating churches, and Black PRAISE United acknowledge the support of the following agencies and organizations:

Funders: The Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR); The CIHR Canadian HIV Trials Network; Canadian HIV/AIDS Black, African and Caribbean Network; Committee for Accessible AIDS Treatment; Interagency Coalition on AIDS and Development; The Ontario HIV Treatment Network.

Supporters: Africans in Partnership Against AIDS; Black Coalition for AIDS Prevention; Moyo Health and Community Services; Somerset West Community Health Centre.


  1. Husbands, W., Kerr, J., Calzavara, L., Tharao, W., Greenspan, N., Muchenje-Marisa, M., Luyombya, H., Nakamwa, J., Arnold, K., Nakiweewa, S., Browne, O. (2020). Black PRAISE: Engaging Black congregations to strengthen critical awareness of HIV affecting Black Canadian communities. Health Promotion International. doi: 10.1093/heapro/daaa057. (Published online ahead of print)
  2. Husbands, W., Nakamwa, J., Tharao, W., Greenspan, N., Calzavara, L., Sathiyamoorthy, T., Muchenje-Marisa, M., Arnold, K., Browne, O., Kerr, J. (2020). Love, judgement and HIV: congregants’ perspectives on an intervention for Black churches to promote critical awareness of HIV affecting Black Canadians. Journal of Racial and Ethnic Health Disparities. https://doi.org/10.1007/s40615-020-00808-5. (Published online ahead of print)
  3. Kerr, J., Burton, K., Tharao. W., Greenspan, N., Calzavara, L., Browne, O., Luyombya, H., Arnold, K., Nakamwa, J., Muchenje-Marisa, M., Husbands, W. (2021). Examining HIV-related stigma among African, Caribbean, and Black church congregants from the Black PRAISE study in Ontario, Canada. AIDS Care. https://doi.org/10.1080/09540121.2021.1871723 (published online ahead of print).
  4. Black PRAISE Conference Report. African, Caribbean and Black Churches Responding to HIV-related Stigma in Ontario, Canada. OHTN. 2019
  5. Black PRAISE: An intervention to strengthen how Black congregations understand HIV affecting Black communities. CATIE Evidence Briefs. 2020.
  6. Examining the results of CTN 297: Black PRAISE. CTN News. 2020.
  7. Gillard D. (1998). The Black Church in Canada. McMaster J Theol Min 1. https://www.mcmaster.ca/mjtm/1-5.htm.
  8. Este D. (2004). The Black Church as a social welfare institution: Union United Church and the development of Montreal’s Black community, 1907–1940. J Black Studies 35:3–22.
  9. Este D, Bernard WT. (2006). Spirituality among African Nova Scotians: a key to survival in Canadian society. Crit Soc Work 7:1–22. https://ojs.uwindsor.ca/index.php/csw/article/download/5768/4708?inline=1.