Seventy Years of Sharing God's Love

07 February 2020


Rev. Frank Byatt, the Christmas Bowl founder, reminded us to remember those less fortunate than ourselves.
This Christmas marked the 70th anniversary of the Christmas Bowl. We take a look back at the extraordinary impact it has had and see why Frank Byatt’s mission is as important today as it was in 1949. 

It was 1949. Millions of refugees were starving in war ravaged Europe. And as Reverend Frank Byatt looked at his family’s 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. 

So he called his congregation to “get a bowl to put on your Christmas dinner table and see if you can get everyone round the table to make a generous gift so that you can share your good dinner with hungry children in other lands.”  

The first Christmas Bowl appeal back in 1949 raised £1808 to support starving refugees in war-ravaged Europe. This was no small sum for a congregation at that time. 

But Frank did not stop there. His mission was to unify Australian Christians of all traditions to work together to put the word of the Gospel into action. 

Frank's vision and action over many years did just that. 

Frank's legacy has lived on through the years, as Christians from more than 15 denominations come together each year to share God's love through the Christmas Bowl. Image credits: In Unity magazine, 1981 (left), 1983 (right)
 In 1977, Australian Christians came together to provide food, clothing and medical care to ease the suffering of families shattered by the Andhra Pradesh cyclone. In 1984-85, we were there, standing alongside people fighting famine in Ethiopia. And in 2005, we provided life-saving aid to communities devastated by the Boxing Day tsunami.    

Since its humble beginnings, the Christmas Bowl has raised more $100 million for people affected by conflict and disaster. And each year, tens of thousands of Australian Christians, from more than 15 denominations, come together to share God’s  love through the Christmas Bowl appeal.   

Frank’s legacy lives on today. Funds raised by the Christmas Bowl enable Act for Peace to work in partnership with communities in more than 20 countries around the world, equipping them with the skills they need to solve their own problems and get back on their feet. 

Two children carry water home in a camp for internally displaced persons that formed around a church in Riimenze, South Sudan. The parish has provided food, shelter material, and health care, and the presence of the local priest and a group of religious has contributed to a sense of relative safety. Image credit: Paul Jeffrey