Monday • April 19
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IANDS Presents NDE Radio
Lee Witting

LEE WITTING is host of the podcast NDE Radio, which he founded some seven years ago.  He retired after 15 years as chaplain at Eastern Maine Medical Center, and continues to pastor a congregation at the Union Street Brick Church in Bangor, Maine. Before starting NDE Radio for the International Association for Near-Death Studies (IANDS), he served as their Publications Director.  

Lee’s 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 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 money they saved, Lee, his wife and young son boarded a coal freighter bound for Germany, and spent nine months living in a VW camper, touring churches and pagan sites in Europe, and following crusader routes through the former Yugoslavia, Turkey, Syria, Jordan and Lebanon – winding up in Jerusalem before returning to Europe and the US.

Back in the states, 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 midcoast 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 a local ambulance.

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 wife and co-pastor, Charlene, were able to reopen an historic Bangor church and convert it to a working church theater, where open mic nights and several plays, including an annual Passion Play, were produced by Charlene. 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 later 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’s podcast is dedicated primarily to interviews with near-death experiencers, and offers more than 340 archived shows for those interested in first-hand accounts of NDEs.