History of the Christmas Bowl

It was 1949. Millions of refugees were starving in war-ravaged Europe. And as Rev Frank Byatt, a Methodist Minister from Victoria, looked at his heavily-laden Christmas dinner table, the contrast between our abundance in Australia and the needs of others around the world could not have been more stark.

As a Christian, he felt that he had to do something. After all, it was Christmas, the one great day of sharing!

So he called on his congregation to “get a bowl to put on your Christmas dinner table as a Bowl of Remembrance and 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.”

That first Christmas Bowl appeal raised £1,808 for refugees. No small sum for a congregation at the time. But Frank didn’t stop there. His mission was to unify all Australian Christians, of all traditions, to work together to put the word of the Gospel into action.

As Frank wrote in 1958: “The evangel is complete only when the action of the Gospel matches the message of the gospel.”

Frank’s vision and action over many years did just that and now thousands of Australian churches from over 15 different denominations work together each year through the Christmas Bowl appeal.

While many of us now give online or through the giving envelopes handed out in church, rather than by putting a bowl on the table, the Christmas Bowl remains a vital mechanism for sharing God’s love with our brothers and sisters in urgent need. 

Each year, gifts to the Christmas Bowl support local partners around the world to both meet urgent need and create change that lasts; equipping communities affected by conflict and disaster with the skills they need to solve their own problems and get back on their feet.