The annual peace light pilgrimage had an eventful journey this year from the conflict around Jerusalem to a warm welcome in Luton.
It is now on its way to millions of homes and over 100 countries around the world. It is due to grace the shrine at Ground Zero in New York just in time for Christmas.
Collected at Dover by Deep Sea Scout Mick Jarman, the Bethlehem Peace Light was commemorated at a special service in All Saints Church before a congregation of over 120 Scouts and supporters from parishes around the town.
It was an event that will be repeated at countless locations around the world.
Bishop of Bedford the Right Revd Richard Atkinson said: “This annual event is an important symbol for world peace. The light from Bethlehem travels to very many countries and is given a place of honour at Ground Zero in central New York.
“In the UK it is taken by Scout volunteers to all parts of our island nation to bring a sign of hope and joy to people everywhere. You can’t get a more touching gesture than that.”
Mick Jarman explained, “The light started its journey on November 24 when it was lit by a young Egyptian girl at Christ’s Grotto in war-torn Bethlehem for this year’s peace child ten-year-old Niklas Dumhart to carry back to his home town in Upper Austria.
“The Austrian Broadcasting Service ORF began this huge charitable event in 1986 to help orphans and homeless children in their country.
“Within a short time the idea was taken up by Scouts across Europe, the Middle and Far East and the UK before being accepted as an important Christmas symbol by Scouts in the USA and Canada.”
Rev David Kesterton organised the service led by the Bishop of Bedford along with Luton Mayor Cllr Dave Taylor. Cllr Taylor said: “On behalf of the town and all those who live here, I am delighted to welcome the Peace Light to Luton and to see it begin its journey amongst the young people of our community. May this light be a sign of the peace and understanding we all long for in our town and beyond.”
Over 30 Beavers, Cubs and Scouts and their leaders from across Luton came to take part in the service at All Saints with St Peters Church in Shaftesbury Road as well as many young people from the parish.
To keep up to date with the journeys of the Peace Light around the world go to: www.scouts.org/peacelight.