In African-American communities all across America, there are esteemed places of business that perhaps we may not appreciate as we should. They are sometimes located in suburban areas, but more likely in the inner city—even in the most impoverished communities. They have creative and appealing names. These places of business are the black barbershops in our nation.

For decades the black barbershop has served the African-American community as a centralized place where men feel comfortable discussing the most important issues impacting their lives: politics, social trends, family and finances.

There are lively debates about sports, and lighthearted banter about many other issues. In recent years the barbershop also became recognized as a place where people can find better health.

In 2007  Los Angeles area-Christians outside the Adventist Church started an innovative and creative health outreach—the black barbershop health program. Barbershops became a focus for health screening, health education and referral for those without health insurance. This program now operates coast-to-coast in nearly 50 cities.
Park Hill Seventh-day Adventist Church in Denver, Colorado has participated in the barbershop outreach. We began our work in 2009, visiting one shop quarterly. This work expanded in 2012 in partnership with the Colorado Black Health Collaborative. We now work with 11 barbershops (and also beauty salons). We measure blood pressure and blood sugar levels and conduct health education. We also inform people about our church ministries. We see both men and women and refer those without insurance to safety net clinics.This is a rewarding work and can be a powerful method of health evangelism. We would like to challenge others to become involved in this hands-on ministry.

Guest author Byron E. Conner is a medical doctor and a member of the Park Hill Seventh-day Adventist Church in Denver, Colorado.