The Peace Light from Bethlehem '08-'09 announcement

The Russian Union of Scouts,
Along with other Scouting organizations and associations present their annual charity event
The Bethlehem Light of Peace and Friendship in Russia

The Bethlehem Light of Peace and Friendship
The first ever Peace Light from Bethlehem was organised in 1986 by the Austria TV channel ORF as a part of their wider scaled charity program Light into Darkness (Licht ins Dunkel), with the aim of supporting unfortunate invalid children. Thousands of people carried lit candles and lamps through the streets, as a symbol of peace, friendship and unity. This original Light of Peace and Friendship, was lit by an Austrian boy from the flames of a light burning in the grotto of the birthplace of Jesus in Bethlehem. In 1989 the Light arrived in Eastern Europe to appear on the ruins of the fallen Berlin Wall.

In 1989 the Austrian Scouts joined in with the event for the first time and the Peace Light from Bethlehem took on its present day form. Every November, as young Austrian girl or boy chosen for the task for special services rendered in helping fellow kinsmen brings a part of this abundant flame in an oil lamp from Bethlehem to Linz. And its from Vienna that representatives of various scouting organizations pass it on to different countries and continents, so as to continue the notion of the Worldwide Brotherhood of Scouting serving peace and good-will.

Before Christmas, Scouts deliver the Peace Light to the European Parliament in Strasburg. In 1989 and 2000, Pope John-Paul II received the Light from Scouts in Rome and also in 2000 UN Peace-keeping Forces took the Bethlehem Light to Kosovo. The first time that the Christmas Light arrived in Russia was in 1996.

It has become customary for a group of Scoutmasters or a small delegation of Scouts and Scout leaders from different towns around Russia to set off to Belarus, in festive spirit, in order to light their lamps with this flame, brought in by Belarusian scouts and their Polish brothers, who in turn collect the Light from German or Slovenian scouts who they themselves receive it from Austrian Scouts.

Upon arrival in Moscow it has become traditional for a thanksgiving service to be celebrated in the Patriarchal Krutitski Monastery, from where the Light sets off travelling to towns and churches throughout Russia.
We try to bring the Light to Russia in time for non-orthodox Christmas as a gift to fellow Christians. Two years ago the Light was carried to the Catholic Cathedral of Russia on Malinki Gruzinski (Moscow) in time for Christmas Mass with Bishop Tadeyush Kondrusevitch, who, to our honour and pride, mentioned to his congregation that the Light had been handed over by orthodox youngsters and scouts.

As is customary, we will also be printing a series of posters in Russian and English for this years event. The design of the posters will incorporate old ideas from previous years with a touch of redesigning. The badges Guardian of the Light, which each active participant receives at this scouting event upon fulfilment of pre-determined tasks, will also take on a new look.
Should your group, patrol or parish church be intending to take part in the event and in order to avoid bringing in 5 or 10 " Peace Lights", please could you get in touch with our coordinators?
Event Coordinators for the Union of Russian Scouts

- Slava E. Chernyh,

- Helen OConnell-Gros,