Churches unite for Christmas fundraiser

By Simon Ruppert

Benalla's Uniting Church is one of hundreds across Australia taking part in this year's Christmas Bowl fundraiser.

The ecumenical initiative, which was started by Reverend Frank Byatt in 1949, is supported by a range of Australian Christian churches.

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It is organised by Act for Peace, an organisation that partners with passionate people and organisations across the world to achieve safety, justice and dignity in communities threatened by conflict and natural disaster.

Benalla's Patsy Bollard has been involved with the Uniting Church and the Christmas Bowl initiative for many years.

“The Christmas Bowl is organised by the national council of churches, which is Australia-wide,” Ms Bollard said.

“We do various fundraising through the year and this one concentrates on overseas aid.

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“But at the moment we are also raising money for the bushfire appeal

“We are asking people to donate what they can to that when they come to church.”

Ms Bollard said it was important for the church, and the community in general, to do its bit for others at Christmas.

“There's always someone worse off than yourself, always,” Ms Bollard said.

“I think were pretty fortunate here in Benalla as it's such a caring community.”

There are an estimated eight million refugees and displaced people globally – more than any time since records began.

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One person is forcibly displaced every two seconds as a result of conflict or persecution. That is 37 000 people a day.

Globally, children make up about half of the refugee population.

About 80 per cent of the world’s refugees live in countries neighbouring their country of origin.

Since it first started in 1949, the Christmas Bowl has raised more than $100 000 000 million.

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Last year, more than 1300 churches from 15 denominations across Australia took part in the Christmas Bowl raising $2.3 million to provide Rohingya refugees with urgent medical care and shelter, and support other disaster and conflict affected communities around the world.

● If you would like to get involved with this year's Christmas bowl and make a donation, visit and click ‘give-now'