Over 100 people gathered at the Parish Church of All Saints with St Peter in Luton on Monday, December 17, to welcome the Peace Light.
The light was collected from Dover by Luton Deep Sea Scout Mike Jarman, as it arrived on the latest leg of its annual journey from Bethlehem. The Curate of All Saints with St Peter, Revd Jo Burke, welcomed guests including the Mayor of Luton, Cllr Naseem Ayub, Mr Sanjeev Kumar from Shri Guru Ravidass and Maqsood Anwar from the Madinah Mosque, together with many Scouts, Guides and friends from all over the town.
Revd David Chesterton spoke about the “Faithful Friends” in the West Midlands and their vision to build a community that celebrates diverse communities bringing peace, friendship, understanding and hope. Mr Kumar and Mr Anwar shared thoughts and readings, before Mr Kumar lit the first of the many candles which would create a circle of light around the church.
Then, by candlelight, new friends and old exchanged olive branches and messages of peace.
Cllr Ayub said “It’s wonderful to see people from so many backgrounds come together in this beautiful church, a place of peace and harmony, to celebrate together, share cultures and make friends.
“In Luton, where more than 120 languages are spoken, there must be at least 20 or 30 of those represented here. In a town as diverse as ours it’s so important to have such a sense of community as I have felt tonight. I would like to thank Mike for his service to the Peace Light.”
Originally organised by the Austrian Broadcasting Company in 1986 as part of a charitable mission for children in need, the light is collected every year from the Holy Land. This year it started its journey on 28th November, with the aid of Scouts, it is shared with millions of homes across Europe, USA and Canada.
In the UK, the light’s journey is co-ordinated by Deep Sea Scouts like Mike, all of whom are serving or retired members of the Armed Forces, officers and crew in the Merchant Navy, fishermen, and many others with strong connections to the sea.
During the service a collection which was generously supported was made in aid of the Luton foodbank.