The Bethlehem Peace Light' 2009-2010



 ,   2008-09

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 Peace Light

The first ever Peace Light from Bethlehem was organised in 1986 by the Austrian TV channel ORF as a part of their wide 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 Nativity in Bethlehem. Twenty years ago 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 format. Every November, a young Austrian girl or boy is chosen for the honour of bringing a part of this symbolic flame, in an oil lamp from Bethlehem to Austria, in recognition of their outstanding service in helping their fellow countrymen and women. Various representatives of many scouting organizations gather in Vienna to collect it and then pass it on to neighbouring countries and other continents, so as to continue the traddtions and ethos 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. 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 Russia to set off for Belarus in festive spirit, in order to light their lamps from the Peace Light, in what could be called one great big relay. Austrian Scouts deliver the Light to German or Slovienian Scouts who then pass it on to Polish and Belarusian Harcer Scouts from whom the Russian Scouts will in turn receive it to transfer it back to Moscow.

For several years now, as the Light arrives in Moscow, a special thanksgiving service is celebrated in the Patriarchal Krutitski Monastery. It is here that Russian Scouts gather together ready to take on the challenge of continuing this massive relay, through which the Light will resume its journey by branching out to different corners of the country. The Scouts will strive to set the Light down in as many towns, churches and establishments not only for Orthodox Christmas on 7th January, but also for western style Christmas on 25th December.
As is customary, we will also be printing a series of posters for the event. This year a Poster Designing Competition will be held for youngster wishing to participate (maximum age 16). For details please contact one of the coordinators. The honorary title Guardian of the Light, is awarded and a badge presented to those Scouts who successfully transport the Light further afield in Russia.
Should your group, patrol or parish church like to take part in the distribution of the Bethlehem Peace Light and wish to perpetuate the warm spirit of this event, please get in touch with one of our coordinators who will willingly assist you.

Event Coordinators:
- Vyacheslav E. Chernyh, Chief Scout Master - R.U.S.
- Helen OConnell-Gros, International Coordinator - R.U.S.

Bethelehem Light 2009-2010 action supported by "Podravka-Vegeta, Russia"