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, 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 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".
The Peace Light first came to New York in 2001 by Canadian Scouts who brought it to Ground Zero. 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.
Austrian Airlines has continued to bring the Peace Light in 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011.
A report about Roger and Joe's experiences distributing the Peace Light in 2008 can be found here: 2008 final report from Roger and Joe.pdf No final report was created in 2009. Tracking maps for 2008 and 2009 are available on the maps page.