Stigma. Stigmata. Singular. Plural. The early form of this word meant a sign or mark made with a pointed instrument or burned into the skin of a slave or criminal. When in its plural form - stigmata - it came to mean the wounds of Christ as a part of His crucifixion. In today's usage, the word stigma refers to some visible sign or mark of shame or disgrace. But what if the stigma is invisible? Maybe only the by-products of a stigmatized condition like mental illness can be seen.

We now have an opportunity to learn more about the many facets of mental illness and what we, as Christians, can do to create caring congregations that will lessen the sting of stigma and heal the hearts of those who struggle. First Lutheran has partnered with the Unitarian Universalist Congregation in Eau Claire and NAMI: National Alliance on Mental Illness to present our fall Community Conversation to be held on four consecutive Thursday evenings in October. Please join us and bring someone you know who needs to hear this important message.

Mental Illness/Health & Communities of Faith

facilitated by Pr. Barry Boyer and Dr. Ken Adler.

Thursdays, October 9, 16, 23, 30

7-8:30 p.m.

Unitarian Universalist Congregation

421 S Farwell St, Eau Claire


Sessions 1 & 2

Understanding Mental Illness

Attitudes about Mental Illness, What Causes Mental Illness?, Fear & Stigma, Mental Illness: Types & Symptoms, Spiritual Care, Needs of Family, Friends & Co-Workers


Session 3

The Unique Role of Faith Communities

A History of Belief and Treatment of Mental Illness, Differences between Spirituality & Religion, Integrating Spirituality into the Treatment Process, Spiritual Themes Surrounding Mental Illness


Session 4

Creating Caring Congregations

Creating a Caring Congregation - Five Step Program:  Education, Commitment, Welcome, Support, Advocacy


As Christians, we all are marked in two ways - we are created in the image of God, marked by our very appearance, and in our baptism we are sealed by the Holy Spirit and marked with the cross of Christ forever. When affected by a stigma, whether our mark is outwardly visible or invisible and only known to us and those close to us, we are marked. But, as Christians, we do not suffer alone. We are held in love by our Creator and by those who are grounded in that love through Christ the crucified. -RJ