From an early age, the Rev. Betsy Stang, an interfaith minister, studied with indigenous elders and wisdom keepers who taught her the importance of speaking for those who have no voice.
Having "no voice" does not mean physiological muteness, but the inability to communicate effectively in the most basic and core sense with the earth, environments, cultures and, in general, the world around us. Stang would like to rid the silent, voiceless hush among the people of the world. She also feels that people must learn to make "we" a main goal in their lives, instead of "me".
A survivor of a rarely publicized form of breast cancer, inflammatory breast cancer, typically not detected with conventional mammograms, Stang was given a poor prognosis due to the statistically low survival rates on this obscure form of the disease.
Her "voice" wishes to reach out to others to encourage responsibility in doing one's own research to gain reliable information and use this knowledge so their own voice can be heard and taken seriously. And Stang encourages this to be facilitated in every facet of one's life - medically, environmentally, in personal relationships and with people in surrounding communities, as well as world communication.
However, this is just a minuscule part of what Stang does for the universe around her.
"Because life is terminal, it is important to be authentic and to make a difference in this world," she said. "Each time we add to the quotient of beauty and joy on this earth, we have done something to make a difference - our lives become a gift, not just a taking."
Stang's gift of life takes on many duties. Her short biography states: "Betsy Stang, MA, MSC, has spent the last 30 years as a cross cultural transformational practitioner. Betsy is an Interfaith Minister, Earth Activist, counselor, writer, mother and teacher."
Expounding upon this simple bio, Stang is the executive director and founder of the Wittenberg Center for Alternative Resources, Inc. at 17 Jonet Lane in Bearsville and is dedicated to creating networks for a peaceful, sustainable future. She is also the presiding minister for The Center for the Living Earth, an interfaith congregation registered in the New York state and Ulster County. In addition, she is a certified practitioner of The Pyramid School of Feng Shui and a consultant for "Healing by Design." She has a private practice utilizing clairvoyant counseling for personal and planetary transformation.
Growing up in Manhattan, Stang was an adopted child who, she said, felt odd, unhappy and disconnected. "A stranger in a strange land," she said, adding that she was always sensitive and had visions of the way things could be. Being fortunate enough to be introduced to a variety of teachers from many diverse traditions, she discovered that other cultures had ideas more in tune to her own.
Grounding herself by spending time amidst natural settings replete with birds and other animals, she also spends time in the practice of Bodichitta, meaning "a compassion for all beings."
What better place to be than the Hudson Valley? And her fortuitous introduction to the valley was having good friends who she visited to discover the natural beauty celebrated in the mountainous environment of the Catskills.
"I came up and fell in love," she said.
Her partner, the Rev. Jim Davis, grew up in the valley and, no doubt, opened up her eyes to the area's splendor. Davis is an interfaith minister, teacher, Earth activist and visionary and the environmental director of the Wittenberg Center for Alternative Resources.
The center was moved to its location in a newly built, more-sustainable solar-powered structure that better represents the publicly supported, not-for-profit organization it houses. The center serves as the office, library, meeting and gathering place, studio, and respite for all who enter and take part in many of Stang's and the center's offerings.
When walking through the door of the center, one is engulfed with sunlight pouring through a repurposed stained glass church window adorned by a white dove signifying the Holy Spirit. The furnishings are an eclectic mix of modestly plain and decorative. The walls and surfaces are ornamented with a calming and pleasing medley of artifacts and art.
As an organization, the center is accredited as an international non-governmental organization with consultative status at the United Nations.
Forums are held on Earth awareness, indigenous cultures, personal and planetary transformation, and grass-roots groups and policy makers to promote ways to achieve a sustainable world for all people. It's a perfect place to learn about this critical time and how to expedite solutions to save the planet's resources and beauty.
We all are experiencing a time, as the brochure states, that has depleted the ozone layer, polluted the air, Earth and waterways and presents "an imperative need to listen to the wisdom of those traditions, which have walked in balance with the Earth." The center asserts the need is essential to sustain the future of our children, grandchildren and continuance of humanity.
Since 2001, the center has increased its focus on the aims of the "Decade of a Culture of Peace" and has been working more consistently with organizations and United Nations' bodies and committees seeking to end religiously motivated violence. Some of the center's contributions to the United Nations have been: 2003-2006, The NGO Committee on the UN International Decade of the World's Indigenous Peoples; 2004 -2006, CONGO Committee on Spirituality, Values and Global Concerns (The center was a founding member of this committee); 2003-2006, Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues; and 2003-2006, The Commission on the Status of Women.
During the past few years, the center has facilitated events and programs such as the Earth Reunion, The Cry of the Earth: The Legacy of the First Nations at the United Nations, The First Interfaith Gathering at Wounded Knee, S.D., along with offerings of videotapes, historical archives, intern programs, an interfaith seminary and research facilities.
Another center program is "The Center for the Living Earth," a church that provides a seminary training program for interfaith ministers and the organization of interfaith ceremonies across the nation. "Interfaith can mean a variety of practices, but it always means respect for all ways of spirit," Stang said. "Our graduates work in a variety of fields, but none has been drawn to having a building that is a church."
Due to her openness to energies that surround all humanity, Stang involves herself in her own practices of both Feng Shui with her "Healing by Design" consultation service and also "Clairvoyant Counseling".
As a certified practitioner of The Pyramid School of Feng Shui, Stang brings the ancient art of harmonizing a person's proper relationship in the world in an integrated approach to assess how an individual experiences their personal environment. As she has written in her brochure, "It is a powerful tool in strengthening positive influences and reversing negativity in an environment, for the purpose of positive living."
Stang said she feels that the challenging and changing world can be more easily dealt with if one makes their homes and office true refuges for attainment of well-being and abundance. The energy and flow of a person's surroundings is necessary to unfold one's true potential as conscious and creative beings. Her consultation and design service includes Feng Shui consulting, landscape design, custom hand-painted furniture and resource referrals.
Stang also facilitates the process "Clairvoyant Counseling," advancing the technique of carrying on a dialogue with one's higher self, to attain answers that are sought after. She edifies that these answers are only available deep within one's own being, not from others or the world around us. The method she uses is to attune and teach people into listening deeply to validate the spirited voice that only an individual can hear. She gives people strength to move forward, in alignment, with their soul's unfolding.
In her own words, "If you carry a dream for transformation and healing deep within your heart, now is the time to listen to your inner wisdom. Our dreams can become manifest in physical reality very quickly at this juncture, and we need the good dreams."
In summation, she said, "People meet, not by chance, but as teachers for one another."
The current project that the center is working on involves 20 years of archival video footage of indigenous wisdom keepers from around the world on the prophecies and care of the Earth. The center hopes to raise funds to begin its "Wisdom of the Elders" series.
Center officials are currently looking for a partnership with a university in the Hudson Valley as a final repository for this archival material. If interested, contact Stang at (845) 679-9764 or send her an e-mail at email@example.com or go online to www.wittenbergcenter.org.
İDaily Freeman 2007