. 3111
Russian Union of Scouts
Head Quarter

Betlehem Light - International Charity action

Press release of the R.U.S. HQ

Nizhny Novgorod-Minsk-Moscow

On December 26, the group of our Scouts from Nizhny Novgorod start participation in a World Scout action of a Goodwill that is called "Bethlehem Light". The aim of the action is to deliver Bethlehem Light, lit in Bethlehem cave, to each temple, each Christian home, from heart to heart from hand to hand- as a symbol of God, Unification, Love and Joy. The action "Bethlehem Light" is a Scout gift to all people by New Year and Christmas.
Hard work was done this year to prepare the action.. Without sponsors our Scouts found money for repair of the Scout mini-bus, for petrol, lampands, oil, food, equipment. They printed posters and delivered information material. The team of Scouts was properly selected. We had a hard road (3000 kms) up to the Polish border and back with breakages, cold, ice, accidents on roads, absence of any opportunity to cook dinner and take care of ourself. The team included Scoutmasters from Nizhny Novgorod, Arzamas, Moscow, as well as Scouts from Tonkino, Nizhny Novgorod, Arzamas. Having received blessing, Scouts started their way
Difficulties began immediately after we had left the city. The heating system of the bus was broken. The fan was fused. Only a stock of hot water in the thermoses rescued us. That was only the beginning. At one refueling a petrol hose came off and the bus was poured with petrol. Fortunately explosion did not take place. By terrible ice, having passed 420 kms, Scouts arrived to Moscow. They got a huge pleasure, having met with the capital - Moscow. But we could not see much, as we spent more than 4 hours, in traffic jams.Having visited the Red Square, the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, the State Duma of the Russian Federation, we went to one of Moscow schools to spend the night. A hard floor and a cup of tea were a reward to us. All night long the Scouts were looking after the bus (there were things, equipment, and the most important - lampands with oil and a stock of petrol). On December 27, we got up at 5 a.m. We had to do the next step: 720 kms through Moscow, Vyazma, Smolensk, the Belarus border to Minsk.
The road appeared to be extremely dangerous. Instead of expected frosty weather there was rain with snow, dirty and fog. Having stayed 12 hours in rigid armchairs, without dinner, we arrived to Minsk at 19 p.m. Generally we passed 1200 kms.
We were impressed by Minsk. The city appeared to be European class. All buildings in down-town were highlighted with 20-30 projectors. It was very clean there. We were met by friends - Scouts of Belarus.On having visited Minsk centre, we went to a school in a surburb to spend the night. We could not remember such a cold night even in tents. There were vacations and the heating at school was reduced almost completely. We were rescued only by sleeping bags and bedrolls. Next morning all delegation, having caught a cold on our way to Moscow, was coughing in a frozen bus. Several Scouts were running a temperature. When Belarussian Scouts saw how tired we were they offered us to go to Polish border themselves and take the saint fire. The representative of Belarus' Scouts Igor Kostevich went to Grodno to Polish Scouts by his car.
In the morning on December 28, 2003 we visited Khatyn. In the evening we met again Belarus' Scouts. And all the time we were waiting for the information from the Polish border. At last we received the information that the fire was transferred cross the border and went to Minsk. At 22 p.m. Igor Kostevich brought the lampand with the The Betlehem Light. The solemn transfer of the fire from Belarus' Scouts to Russian began. By this time the fire lit in Bethlehem had already passed more than 1000 temples, cities, and had done a long way in 10000 kms. From that moment we had to pass the most important part of the way - to keep the fire up to the Cathedral Church of Nizhny Novgorod - Staroyarmarochny Sobor.
During the ceremony of the fire' transfer a Scout from Tonkino lost consciousness. We had new problems. There was a question, whether we could move further with the sick child and with the lampand. We had to look after the fire during 3 days. At night the child felt better, and we decided to leave Minsk. The lampand could increase the temperature inside of the bus and the Scouts would not freeze. It was necessary to hurry up. We were waited in temples of Smolensk, in Krutitskoe farmstead in Moscow.
The lampand salutarily influenced our expedition. The air in the bus became warmer. Fortunately it began freezing outside, and the road became dry, the sky cleared up. And the number of cars on the road lowered. The way back to Moscow took unexpectedly little time. We passed 720 kms for 8,5 hours. The Scouts gradually stopped coughing and became cheerful. Having arrived to Moscow, we carried the fire to Poklonnaya mountain. We spent the night at school. On December, 30 at 11 o'clock in Krutitskoe farmstead the service began.
Krutitskoe farmstead was chosen not accidentally. Here there was a specially created diocese of Russians which negotiated with foreigners during the invasion of tatars. Here Nizhny Novgorod home guard was staying before the liberation of Moscow from Poles. Here the Nizhny Novgorod wars prayed for liberation of Russia. After the ignition of the fire there was the transfer of the fire to Kostroma, Arkhangelsk, Arzamas, Diveevo, and other churches of Russia.
Then we had to pass the heaviest part of the road. The highway Moscow - Nizhny Novgorod always had a bad luck. The children had never seen such quantity of accidents. It was dark and the way from Vladimir to Vyazniki was dangerous. Near Yur'evets town the bus could get in the accident. A drunk company on a huge speed ran in Z. The big bus behind us drove in a ditch. We were saved by 4 sec. Everybody kept silence and we looked forward to getting home. At 21 o'clock the bus arrived in Nizhny Novgorod. We all were very happy. "We have done it! We have sustained! " - we said to each other. Having passed 3000 kms, it took us exactly five days to bring Bethlehem Light. We kept the lampand and continued the relay race of the fire. We supported the world action of good "Bethlehem Light".
On December 31, at 12 o'clock we dropped in at Staroyarmarochny Sobor - Cathedral Church. We were surprised by the silence and absence of parishioners, contrary to promises of clergymen. The scout team was standing outside. They told us that the prior Father Michael (under the instruction of Father Georgy - new Bishop of Nizhny Novgorod and Arzamas) did not allow us to bring the fire to the temple. During an hour and a half we were trying to talk to Father Georgy. But everything was in vane. We were told: "We cannot connect you with Bishop Georgy, you should book an appointment with him. We will consider your application and will make a decision whether to meet you or not ".
The main gift by New Year and Christmas - Bethlehem Light was not presented the believers and the townspeople. The Scouts were perplexed! On December 15, 2003 there was a pressconference. The Diocese was invited to the conference. We did not get a refusal. On December 30 Staroyarmarochny Cathedral confirmed the readiness to take the fire and to invite parishioners. After our adventures it was so hard to see church bureaucrats which did not want to accept Bethlehem Light only because Father Georgy did not know about this action, did not meet the president of scouts Bogdanov and did not hear about Scouts. (They explained it to us this way during the press-centre).
During the journey just having heard that we were carrying Bethlehem Light priests came out, services were held and the fire was transferred. And nobody demanded any paper, and furthermore the sanction for a meeting.
But the fire came to Nizhny Novgorod. It was delivered to cities and settlements. Believers took the fire from our scout house and thanked us. The action had started more than 20 years ago and it will take place in future, Scouts every year will bring sacred Bethlehem Light by Christmas.

January 1, 2004
Scouts of The Russian Union of Scouts
Contact phones: (+7 8312) 133202, 519086




Polish Harcers made it poster - let me hope we do better in next year!

So for granmas (babushka) like this we made action BL, but bureacrats from Church said we need permission for Good Turn everyday(???)

Fortunately media in Nizhny Novgorod running faster than Moscow' 6 papers and all city channels were presented on press-conference.