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Australian churches unite to help millions fleeing

National

More than 1000 churches spanning 15 denominations across Australia have come together to stand-up to injustice and respond to the urgent needs of men, women and children who are fleeing conflict and disaster worldwide in an initiative that runs to December 28.

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 “It is heart-warming to see that in an age of increasing division, churches in Australia from a wide range of faiths and traditions have pledged to take action together in order to provide life-giving support to people in urgent need around the world,” said Hannah Montgomery, Act for Peace, the International aid agency of the National Council of Churches in Australia.

 The pledge has been made to support the 70th anniversary of the annual Christmas Bowl appeal – a pioneering fundraiser launched in Australia in 1949 to help the millions of refugees suffering after WWII. 

 The Christmas Bowl appeal was founded by the Rev Frank Byatt, who, as he surveyed the abundance of his Christmas dinner, felt the strong contrast between our abundance in Australia and the needs of others around the world. 

 He felt that he had to do something, so he came up with a simple idea – to place a bowl on the Christmas dinner table to “see if you can get everybody round the table to make a generous gift so that you can share your good dinner with hungry children in other lands.” 

“This simple act resonated with so many, as it still does today. Sharing a meal with family and friends at Christmas time and taking a moment to reflect on how we can share what we have with those less fortunate than ourselves is a tradition that everyone can relate to,” said Hannah.

 The very first Christmas Bowl raised £1,808 – no small sum for a congregation at that time.  Today, churches have raised more than $100 million through the Christmas Bowl and illustrates the incredible impact that Australian churches can have when they work together.

 “Today, 70 years since the first Christmas Bowl appeal, we are facing the biggest refugee crisis since WWII with more than 70 million people uprooted from their homes because of conflict and disaster.  The call to ‘love thy neighbour’ has never been more poignant,” said Hannah.

 “Most of us take it for granted that Christmas will bring good food, good friends, family and festivities. Our shopping centres are festooned with Christmas decorations, Christmas music plays and the shops are piled high with presents ready to be bought. Yet overseas there are over 65 million people forced to flee their homes to escape conflict and disaster: more than any time since World War II. Families have lost everything. They struggle to feed their children, watch them die for want of medical care and as for a future – rebuilding their lives, education – it is too distant to even contemplate.  These are the people aided by Act for Peace and the Christmas Bowl Appeal,” said Dr Joe Goodall, moderator of the Congregational Federation of Australia and New Zealand.

 To register for the Christmas Bowl and receive a resource kit visit: https://www.actforpeace.org.au/Christmas-Bowl/About/get-involved

 

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