Thursday • February 20
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IANDS Presents NDE Radio
Lee Witting

LEE WITTING serves as a chaplain at a major Maine hospital, pastors the Union Street Brick Church in Bangor, Maine, and is publications director for the International Association for Near-Death Studies (IANDS).   His interest in NDEs began as a child, when he drowned in a lake near Branchville, NJ.

In his Fall, 2010 editorial in the IANDS’ quarterly, Vital Signs, Lee wrote, “My body was under water, but I opted out of the tunnel and the light for a perch high in a tree, watching as my mother, who’d heard me scream, ran from the cottage, dived in, and dragged my lifeless body from the water.  Remarkably, she threw me face down over a log and pumped on my back (as she told me later, to get the water out of my lungs).   In the process, the log did an upside-down CPR, compressing my heart, and got me going again.  And then I was back in my body.”

Lee went through Presbyterian Sunday School before being raised Catholic, when his mother converted to that religion.  At Columbia University he minored in Eastern Studies, and developed a deep interest in Buddhism.  After college he worked two jobs – primarily for New York City’s Dept. of Welfare as a caseworker in Harlem.       

With the money they saved, Lee, his wife and young son boarded a coal freighter and spent nine months living in a VW camper, touring Romanesque and Gothic churches in Europe and following crusader routes through Yugoslavia, Turkey, Syria, Jordan and Lebanon – winding up in Jerusalem before returning to Europe and the U.S.

Back in the US, Lee worked as an editor of one academic and three business publications in Philadelphia.  As members of the Society of Friends, the family marched in Washington DC and New York, protesting the Vietnam War and supporting Civil Rights.  In 1973, the family moved to an old, abandoned farmhouse in coastal Maine.  While restoring the farm, they raised goats, pigs and chickens, and sold their home-grown vegetables at a roadside stand.  Lee helped start and edit an organic gardening magazine for Maine called Farmstead, and later, to supplement his income, opened a real estate office and published/edited a weekly newspaper, The Castine Patriot.  During that time, he also served as a volunteer EMT on the local ambulance corp.

Lee earned an MA degree in theater and creative writing at the University of Maine, before earning a master of divinity degree at Bangor Theological Seminary.  In 1998, Lee and his second wife, Charlene, were able to purchase an historic Bangor church and convert it to a working church theater, where open mic nights and several plays, including an annual Passion Play, are produced by Charlene each year. 

While working as hospital chaplain, he returned to the seminary part-time to earn a doctorate in near-death studies in 2010.  

Lee’s radio experience began at Columbia University’s WKCR-FM in New York, and was recently continued in a six-year run of “Earthtones,” a WERU-FM community radio program he hosted, which was devoted to Native American and Eastern religious chant – along with weekly NDE stories from the files of IANDS

Lee Witting is excited to be helping establish a new direction in IANDS’ outreach with NDE RADIO.