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Sagamore Council BSA to hold Peace Light of Bethlehem event

The Sagamore Council Boy Scouts of America and St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Church in West Lafayette are keeping a global tradition alive despite the pandemic.

Posted: Dec 17, 2020 5:37 AM
Updated: Dec 17, 2020 6:22 AM

TIPPECANOE COUNTY, Ind. (WLFI)—The Sagamore Council Boy Scouts of America and St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Church are keeping a global tradition alive despite the pandemic.

It's called the Peace Light of Bethlehem. Normally the event is held inside of St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Church on Purdue's campus. This year due to COVID-19 it will still take place but in a drive-thru fashion in the church's parking lot. 

The event will take place Saturday from 7-9pm. People will drive in on Sheets Street and will receive the Peace Light when they arrive to a table that'll be set up. Attendees will receive a printed program with scripture, songs, prayer, and other components to enjoy while in their car or at home.

The Peace Light is a continuously burning flame originating from the Grotto of the Nativity in Bethlehem, Israel. The flame is transported all the way from Israel and is passed along from person to person all over the country.

During an event each person brings their own candle or lantern and after the flame is blessed each candle or lantern is lit with the light of Bethlehem. It is meant to promote peace, harmony and unity among the people of the world regardless of race, ethnicity or religion.

The Peace Light from Bethlehem campaign was originally organized in 1986 by the Austrian Broadcasting Company - ORF (Linz) - and was part of a large charitable relief mission -Light into Darkness, for children in need in Austria and abroad. Since 1989, there has been a great deal of co-operation between Scouts and Guides in many countries, allowing the light to travel throughout Europe.

Each year, a child from Upper Austria fetches the light from the grotto in Bethlehem. The light is then flown to Austria from where it is distributed at a Service of Dedication to delegations from across Europe 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, nursing homes, prisons, and places of public, cultural and political importance - to anybody who appreciates the significance of the "gift".

The Peace Light first came to New York in 2001, by Canadian Scouts who brought it to Ground Zero in New York City. In 2002, DHL delivered the Peace Light as a gift from Belgian Scouts and Guides to the Boy Scouts of America in NY. (DHL: Corporate - News) In 2003, the light didn't make it to the U.S. Fortunately, members of the diocesan Scouting committee had kept the 2002 Peace Light burning and spread that around the diocese.

In 2004 the Austrian Scout Movement, Austrian Airlines and Boy Scouts of America International Division arranged to bring the 2004 Peace Light to New York on Dec. 4. Two security guards and Dr. Thomas Ertlthaler, international commissioner of Austrian Scouting, flew from Vienna with the Peace Light in two explosion-proof, British mining lamps, fueled by smokeless paraffin oil.

Just 11 days earlier, Austrian Scouts had extracted the light from the eternal flame in Bethlehem. Peace light arrives in United States, JFK International Airport, NY and from there, the Peace light will travel across North America.

Scouts and Scouters associated with the Boy Scouts of America and Girl Scouts of the United States of America will be transferring the light across the United States and sharing it in their communities after its arrival in the U.S.

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