The goals of this education outreach demonstration study were to prepare a cadre of registered nurses (RN) as Church Health Educators (CHE), and to test the efficacy of a hypertension (HBP) education and support program in African American (AA) churches for persons with HBP in managing blood pressure (BP). In this two-phase study, RNs were prepared as CHEs in phase 1 and a convenience sample of 97 subjects with HBP was taught by the CHEs in phase 2. The intervention's content included the bases of HBP and HBP management strategies, and was taught in eight 1-hour sessions. Using a pre-test-post-test design, data on knowledge, social support and BP were collected at baseline (pre), post-intervention (post1) and 3 months post-intervention (post2). Major findings include: (1) there was a significant increase in knowledge scores from pre to post1 and post2 (P < or = 0.0001; F = 95.08; df = 1.79); (2) education, age and number of years with HBP explained 49% of the variance associated with HBP knowledge; (3) systolic BP (SBP) and mean arterial BP (MAP) significantly decreased from pre to post1 and post2 (SBP-p < or = 0.0001, F = 18.35, df = 1.91; MAP-p < or = 0.0001, F = 17.80, df = 1.86); (4) DBP significantly decreased from pre to post1 only (p < or = 0.008, F = 17.48, df = 1.91); and (5) relationships were found between social support and DBP, and social support and MAP. Issues that emerged from this study with implications for outreach programming include recruitment and retention, randomization, selective sampling, intervention design and use of volunteers.