'Homeless Jesus' Statue May Find Permanent Home in Indianapolis With Help of UMC Church, Charities

(Photo: Bob Stubbs)A group of people seeking to raise funds to install a "Homeless Jesus" statue in Indianapolis, Indiana. From Left: Rev. Andrew Scanlan-Holmes of Roberts Park United Methodist Church, Steve Kerr of Wheeler Mission, Mary Sue McAlister of Soup's On, Chris Purnell of Neighborhood Christian Legal Clinic, and Erich Howard of Outreach Inc.

A church in Indiana has joined several charity organizations to raise money to purchase a "Homeless Jesus" statue for the state capital.

Roberts Park United Methodist Church has partnered with Wheeler Mission, Outreach Inc., and the Neighborhood Christian Legal Clinic to get a "Homeless Jesus" statue for Indianapolis. The Rev. Andrew Scanlan-Holmes, senior pastor at Roberts Park UMC, told The Christian Post that this was the "problem of homelessness in Indianapolis."

"Roberts Park UMC, as a large downtown church, has for the last 20 years, been actively serving this sector of the community through its Soup's On feeding program and now regularly serves an average of 250 meals every Sunday lunchtime to the homeless and food impoverished," said the Rev. Scanlan-Holmes.

"I felt that as one of the ways the church could continue to keep the awareness of the homeless in the public eye was to find a more permanent reminder of the plight of those who have no home to go to."

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(Photo: Courtesy of Timothy P. Schmalz Inc.)This 7-foot long park bench holds the "Jesus the Homeless" sculpture that pedestrians can sit next to. At first, the sculpture looks like a homeless person, on closer inspection, people can see that it's Jesus Christ.

Scanlan-Holmes also told CP that his church and others were encouraging people to donate online and offline to the effort to fundraise for the creation and installation of a Homeless Jesus statue.

"The GoFundMe page has only just got started and has a few donations, we have some significant donations that have come directly to the church," continued Scanlan-Holmes.

"[We] have just received confirmation of the donation of the $4-5,000 installation costs by the TWG Group, a large development group in Indianapolis. But a lot more money is needed."

Sculpted by Canadian artist and devout Catholic Timothy Schmalz and officially named "Jesus the Homeless," the sculpture depicts Jesus lying on a seven foot long bench covered in a blanket. It alludes to the Gospel of Matthew, Chapter 25.

Schmalz made multiple "Jesus the Homeless" sculptures which have received mixed reactions, originially being rejected by two prominent Catholic churches in North America, St. Michael's Cathedral in Toronto and St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York, before the latter decided it would install the statue on its property.

One critic in North Carolina told local media last year that she took issue with St. Alban Episcopal of Davidson granting "Jesus the Homeless" a home.

"Jesus is not a vagrant, Jesus is not a helpless person who needs our help … We need someone who is capable of meeting our needs, not someone who is also needy," she said.

Schmalz, sculptor of the Homeless Jesus statues, told CP that he supported the efforts of Roberts Park UMC and their peers.

"My hope is to get the sculpture in most of the major cities around the world," said Schmalz, noting that he casts the statues in bronze and that they are exact copies of the original.

"There is a blind spot when it comes to representations of Jesus out there. And I think we've had so many … we're in a sense inundated by the perfect representation of Jesus."

Schmalz also told CP of other cities, including Detroit, Michigan, and Dublin, Ireland, which had installed Homeless Jesus statues.

"It's going to many, many different locations," said Schmalz, who added that one of the next cities to get a Homeless Jesus will be Belfast, where Catholics and Protestants have collaborated on getting a statue there.

"Different denominations are coming together and accepting this piece and permanently installing it in many different places."