Homeless Jesus statue put on bench in Ohio – someone calls police within 20 mins

Pastor says installation should inspire conversation around homeless, amid police report

Gino Spocchia
Friday 16 October 2020 11:12 BST
 St. Barnabas Episcopal Church in Bay Village, Ohio
St. Barnabas Episcopal Church in Bay Village, Ohio

Police were called to a church in Ohio with a report about a homeless person sleeping on a bench, to discover that it was a Jesus statue.

Alex Martin, the pastor at St. Barnabas Episcopal Church in Bay Village, wrote on Twitter that police were alerted to the statue 20 minutes after it was installed on Monday.

The witness appeared to believe that the art installation was a real person, sleeping on a bench.

“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…” tweeted Mr Martin.

The sculpture, designed by Timothy Schmalz, was purchased by a local philanthropic organisation, the Community West Foundation, and has toured churches in the area, Cleveland Scene reported.

The statue has been seen throughout Cleveland, Ohio, since October 2018, with an aim to raise awareness of homelessness.

In email to Scene, Mr Martin suggested that the police report would stimulate conversation about the problem.

"[The sculpture] reminds us that, even though homelessness is a not a significant problem in our immediate neighbourhood, we don’t have to drive far to find those in tremendous need," he wrote.

“Perhaps the statue will inspire those who see it to take action and help,” added the pastor. “Seeing Jesus depicted this way reminds us that Jesus identified with the outcast and marginalised in his own day,”

Kathy Leisure, Bay Village police chief, told the news site that the call did take place, and that the witness had been unsure whether or not the statue was a real person or not.  

"If the person was [real], 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,” she wrote in a statement.

St. Barnabas will host the statue until 1 December, Scene reported.

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