BAY VILLAGE, Ohio (WOIO) - Saint Barnabas Episcopal Church in Bay Village put up a ‘Homeless Jesus’ statue outside the building, and within 20 minutes, someone called the police to report a homeless man asleep on a bench.
The statue is displayed at different churches throughout the area. Soon after it arrived at St. Barnabas, Fr. Alex Martin posted this, now-viral tweet:
“Its initial goal was to raise awareness about homelessness and poverty,” said Fr. Martin. Fr. Martin.
He described the statue as a " visual representation of the 25th chapter of Saint Mathew’s gospel in which Jesus tells us anytime we do something for those in great need we’re doing it for Christ himself."
Chris Borzak was walking her dog by the sculpture, and she said: " I just thought it was ridiculous, I thought it was a good representation of Jesus at a homeless man." Like many in Bay Village, she didn’t understand why someone would call the police.
Fr. Martin said, “Bay Village is a small tight-knit community, and I think people have genuine concern and look out for each other. I suspect the call was made out of real concern.”
The statue sits far from the road, near the walking path behind the park.
Some say, even around 3 p.m. when the call was made, it could be easy to mistake the statue for a real homeless person or something else.
Hayden Stratford and Peter Appenheimer pulled up to the parking lot to check it out.
They said, “I think someone just saw that and they just wanted to make sure nothing was wrong.”
“It might confuse some people.”
Tom O’Brien said he first saw it while walking his dogs in the park and “I didn’t realize it was a statue at first.”
Fr. Martin said the immediate and strong reaction speaks to the power of the sculpture and the lesson it’s meant to teach. “It’s jarring to see someone sleeping on a bench, especially in a neighborhood like this where we’re not forced to confront poverty on a regular basis. I hope the lesson is that all life has sacred worth and value; even those often cast to the side by society.”
He hopes people are not as quick to judge the caller for bad intentions and said, “I would thank them for having concern for another human being and taking steps to make sure that person was cared for and had the care they needed.”