Boy Scout Troop 20 and Pack 20 present the Peace Light, led by Will Dodson. Photo by Grace Resetar
From Bethlehem to Big Canoe--the Peace Light shines
BY JEFF DODSON
Scoutmaster Troop 20
Each year in late November, a child from Austria lights a lantern from the continuously burning candle in the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, the site of Jesus’ birth. The light, known as the “Peace Light,” is then flown to Austria where it is shared with delegations from across Europe who distribute it with a message of peace to their own countries for use at ecumenical services. Scouting organizations then take the light to houses of worship, hospitals, homeless shelters, nursing homes, prisons, and places of public, cultural and political importance—to anyone who appreciates the significance of the "gift."
On December 6, Austrian Airlines transported representatives with the Peace Light from Austria to New York, JFK International Airport. A distribution ceremony was held at the airport where many people lit lanterns and candles. The light’s pilgrimage across the U.S. began via volunteers, many of whom are scouts and scouters associated with the Boy Scouts of America and Girl Scouts, transferring and sharing it in their communities.
This year, Carl Lundstrom, Big Canoe resident, lifelong scouter and father of an Eagle Scout, brought the Peace Light to Big Canoe. Its grand entrance was on December 15 at Big Canoe Chapel’s Lessons and Carols musical celebration where Scouts from Troop 20 and Cubs Pack 20 presented the Peace Light during the service. At a reception following the musical service, Scouts and others lit their candles from the flame of the Peace Light to further pass the Light throughout Big Canoe and the surrounding community.
Acquiring the Peace Light to share with Big Canoe was not as easy as it might seem. Even 18 years after it was first introduced to the US, the light is passed person-to-person without a set route, is transported through volunteers, and the best way to find the Peace Light is through social media – Facebook and Google. Within six days of the Peace Light’s arrival in New York, Carl was able to connect with a gentleman from Kennesaw who had driven to Louisville, Kentucky to acquire the Peace Light.
Carl Lundstrom passes the Peace Light to Jeff Dodson, Scoutmaster, Troop 20. Photo by Lynne Dodson