Created by Canadian sculptor Timothy Schmalz, the statue depicts Jesus wrapped in a blanket with his feet exposed and laying on a bench.
Twenty minutes after a "homeless Jesus" sculpture was installed on the grounds of an Ohio church, someone called the cops on it. The sculpture was placed on the grounds of St. Barnabas Episcopal Church in Bay Village on Monday, the church announced on Twitter, "to raise awareness of homelessness in Cleveland and remind us that all people are created in the image of God." Created by Canadian sculptor Timothy Schmalz, the statue depicts Jesus wrapped in a blanket with his feet exposed and laying on a bench and looks realistic enough for a passerby to mistake it for an actual person.
We're glad to temporarily host this statue of Homeless Jesus to raise awareness of homelessness in Cleveland and remind us that all people are created in the image of God. pic.twitter.com/EKClQm7PFG— St. Barnabas, Bay Village (@StBarnabasBV) October 12, 2020
The church's pastor, Alex Martin revealed in a tweet that barely twenty minutes after the sculpture was installed, he found himself having a conversation with a cop about a homeless person report. "Within twenty minutes of the statue arriving, I was having a conversation with a very kind police officer because someone called to report a homeless man sleeping on a park bench. Within twenty minutes..." he wrote. In an email to Cleveland Scene, Fr. Martin explained that the statue was displayed in a high-visibility area intentionally and that the police officer was "extremely professional" and eager to learn about the sculpture.
They then called the police on a homeless Jesus statue......https://t.co/Y8ty0UqL3a— Anthony V. Clark (@anthonyvclark20) October 15, 2020
He now hopes the incident will inspire members of the community to start the conversation on how best to help those in need. "[The sculpture] reminds us that, even though homelessness is not a significant problem in our immediate neighborhood, we don’t have to drive far to find those in tremendous need," Martin wrote in the email. "Perhaps the statue will inspire those who see it to take action and help... Seeing Jesus depicted this way reminds us that Jesus identified with the outcast and marginalized in his own day. He spent much of his time with tax collectors and prostitutes, largely to the chagrin of polite society."
Within twenty minutes of the statue arriving, I was having a conversation with a very kind police officer because someone called to report a homeless man sleeping on a park bench. Within twenty minutes... https://t.co/kyD1vyEd4p— Alex Martin (@ADMartin86) October 12, 2020
Hopefully, the sculpture will make those in the Bay Village community—Northeast Ohio's 18th-wealthiest suburb by median home income—and outside to be " a bit kinder and gentler with one another," said Martin. On its part, St. Barnabas is using the spotlight to raise money for those experiencing hardships. "If anyone wants to help, please use this link to give. Select "Homeless Jesus" and every penny raised will be used to feed, clothe, and house those in need. Hopefully some good will come from all this," the church tweeted.
How it started How it’s going pic.twitter.com/2M7MiSzxsQ— Zack Kopplin (@ZackKopplin) October 16, 2020
The sculpture was reportedly purchased by the local Community West Foundation and has been traveling to churches and other religious organizations across the region since October 2018. It is scheduled to be hosted at St. Barnabas until December 1. Confirming the call about the homeless person, Bay Village police chief Kathy Leasure revealed that the caller had clarified to police dispatch that they were unsure if the figure on the bench was a human being or a statue. "If this was a person laying on a bench, the officer would have made sure the person was not in any sort of medical distress," Leasure wrote in an email, explaining why officers acted on the call.
I love the Homeless Jesus statues. I saw one at a church in Johannesburg where the position of the gate lock mechanism made it look imprisoned. I don't know if it was intentional or not, but added a layer to an already striking image. https://t.co/lAMOXvQQEF pic.twitter.com/2A7o4nMM8b— Shane Liesegang, SJ (شَيْن ليّسْكَيْن) (@OptimistPanda) October 16, 2020
"If the person was, the officer would have been able to radio for an ambulance to respond and start rendering first aid. Additionally, if this were a homeless person, the officer would have checked to make sure the person was okay and to see if they needed anything. There are hotels in nearby cities that will give homeless individuals a free night stay," he added. "The officer could have helped to facilitate this. If the person did not want or need anything, the person would have been permitted to stay where they were."