Boy Scout Troop 113, from Bayport Minnesota, is planning a rather amazing project this holiday season. Scouts are taking part in an International Scouting program to distribute what is called the Peace Light that originates from the grotto manger where Jesus was born in Bethlehem to the rest of the world.
The Peace Light is something the Transatlantic Council in Europe started several years ago. They transport the flame from Bethlehem to Vienna, Austria where it is distributed throughout Europe. A few years ago, the Catholic Committee on Scouting of the Diocese of Brooklyn & Queens, & International Committee, Greater New York Councils (GNYC) BSA & Units of the Transatlantic Council BSA, found a way to bring the Peace Light flame from Vienna to New York City.
This last summer some of Troop 113 Scouts attended the International Scout Jamboree in Iceland where they met a few people from Europe who are involved in the Peace Light program. Since then, they have been planning to be a part of the flame distribution between New York City and Saint Paul, Minnesota. The Peace Light flame is scheduled to arrive at JFK in New York City on December 10, 2008. Two Scout Leaders from Troop 113, Roger Knuteson and Joe Reding, are driving to New York City to meet the flame. On the way back they are planning to stop at the Boy Scout Councils in State College, Pennsylvania; Toledo, Ohio; Chicago, Illinois; Madison, Wisconsin; and finally Saint Paul, Minnesota, so they too can distribute the Peace Light flame to other Scouting Units.
On Friday, December 12th, 2008 from 1:00 – 2:00pm, the Peace Light flame will be present at Glacier’s Edge Council’s Madison Service Center, 5846 Manufacturers Drive, Madison, WI 53704.
On December 14, 2008 the Peace Light flame will be available for distribution from 12:00pm to 4:00pm at Bethlehem Lutheran Church, 490 4th Street, Bayport, Minnesota 55003. Everyone is welcome to come to Bethlehem Lutheran Church where the flame will be shared and distributed. If you wish to take the Peace Light flame away with you, a vessel is needed to transport the flame. Small candle lanterns will be available at Bethlehem Lutheran Church for purchase. Special arrangements for Peace Light distribution may also be accommodated.
The Peace Light from Bethlehem campaign was originally organized by the Austrian Broadcasting Company – ORF (Linx) – and was part of a large charitable relief mission – Light into Darkness, for children in need in Austria and abroad. Since 1990, there has been a great deal of co-operation between Scouts and Guides in many countries, which has allowed the light to travel throughout Europe. Each year, a child from Upper Austria fetches the light from the grotto in Bethlehem where Jesus was born. The light is then flown to Austria from where it is distributed at a Service of Dedication to delegations from across Europe and who take it back, with a message of Peace, to their own countries for use at ecumenical services throughout the continent.
Scouts and Guides can then take the light on to houses of worship, hospitals, homeless shelters, old people homes, prisons, and places of public, cultural, and political importance – to anybody who appreciates the significance of the “gift”.