Churches throw their support behind the Christmas Bowl
Generous giving by churches around Australia to the Christmas Bowl, the annual program of Act for Peace, will help people in war-torn communities worldwide to rebuild their lives.
Churches in New South Wales and the ACT responded to the Christmas Bowl in creative ways. The Coffs Coast Ecumenical Council of Churches launched its Christmas Bowl appeal at St John’s Anglican Church in an ecumenical celebration organised by the Anglican, Uniting and Catholic Churches from Coffs Harbour and Sawtell.
“We were blessed to see the church full, with some 250 people in attendance,” said the Rev. David Morgan from Coffs Coast Ecumenical Council of Churches.
“The evening took the form of a celebration of the Christmas story in song and narrative and a visual presentation of the making of the Christmas Bowl that was used and displayed during the singing of carols by the choirs.”
Funds raised through the Christmas Bowl will support Act for Peace partners who are helping over one million people displaced by conflict worldwide, including in the fledgling nation of South Sudan. Alistair Gee, Executive Director of Act for Peace, the international aid agency of the National Council of Churches in Australia, said, “International support is needed to ensure long-term peace and stability in South Sudan.
“For South Sudan, the world’s newest nation and one of the poorest, there are enormous challenges to be faced. Hopes are high for this new nation, but chronic poverty, poor infrastructure and sanitation, and conflict over territory and resources are just some of the problems that we are trying to tackle with partners.”
In the last three months, more than 200,000 southerners have returned from the north. It is estimated that up to 800,000 people will return this year, creating a mass movement of people that challenges an already fragile environment and peace process. In an isolated outbreak of fighting last month between rebels and the army, more than 200 people were killed and around 20,000 forced to flee.
Act for Peace is working with partners in South Sudan to protect innocent civilians from the impact of the fighting. Gifts to the Christmas Bowl will help provide displaced people with emergency survival kits containing tents, mosquito nets, blankets, water purification tablets and cooking equipment.
Act for Peace’s partners are also working for disarmament, ensuring that hundreds of thousands of weapons, ammunition and bombs are destroyed, so that they cannot be used in a return to civil war or violence.
Mr Gee said, “Each year Australians dig deep in support of the Christmas Bowl. In 2010, we have once again been humbled by the generosity they’ve shown. In the difficult months ahead, generous gifts from churches around Australia through the 2010 Christmas Bowl will help South Sudan to get on its feet.”
For more information on Act for Peace, please phone 1800 025 101 or visiting www.actforpeace.org.au.