Roberts Park United Methodist Church and other community organizations gathered in a service of prayer to launch a campaign to bring the ‘Homeless Jesus’ project to downtown Indianapolis.By: Skyler E. Nimmons
INDIANAPOLIS – A congregation in downtown Indianapolis is seeking to start a new conversation around the plight of those without homes or shelter in their community.
Roberts Park United Methodist Church, in partnership with several other community organizations, is in works to bring the ‘Homeless Jesus’ sculpture by Canadian artist Timothy P. Schmalz to one of the popular cultural districts of the city.
The ‘Homeless Jesus’ depicts a figure lying huddled under a blanket on a seven-foot-long park bench with only bare, pierced feet exposed. That single feature identifies the figure as the crucified Jesus, a sacred image for all Christians. The sculpture is inspired by Matthew 25 and suggests, according to the artist, that Christ is with the most marginalized in our society.
For Indiana Bishop Michael J. Coyner, the sculpture also brings to mind that caring for “the least of these” in the spirit of Jesus allows us to encounter Christ himself.
“The issue of homelessness is a complicated and multi-faceted issue here in Indianapolis, but answers to this issue must begin with the spirit of compassion and care and even shock that are elicited by this sculpture,” the bishop said. “I am grateful to Roberts Park UMC and other community partners who are making this project possible.”
Castings of the sculpture have been placed on private Christian properties in cities around the world, including London, Rome, Dublin, Perth, Buenos Aries, Sao Paulo, Washington, Detroit and Chicago.
“To have the work in Indianapolis also symbolically connects the city with the others around the world who have found it in their heart to give the ‘Homeless Jesus’ a home,” said Schmalz.
A group of parishioners from Roberts Park joined with community members for a prayer service and summer solstice celebration Sunday, June 21, to launch a campaign to support this new effort. The hope is the statue will garner the public’s attention to the disparity and needs of the homeless in the city and around the world.
The Rev. Andrew Scanlan-Holmes, senior pastor at Roberts Park, said, “The summer solstice marked the shortest night that homeless people will need to spend on the streets of Indianapolis and is the longest day of the year, so it is a fitting time to call attention to the daily challenges of those who today will have no home in which to lay their heads.”
The church seeks to raise $150,000 through GoFundMe.com, an online crowdfunding engine, with at least $100,000 of the proceeds benefiting the four project partners to further their work with the homeless in the city of Indianapolis and Marion County.
Project partners include Roberts Park United Methodist Church’s Soup’s On ministry, Wheeler Mission Ministries, Neighborhood Christian Legal Clinic and Outreach, Inc. Each partner is set to receive more than $25,000 as the project costs for the purchase and installation of the statue are expected to be less than $50,000.
To support or learn more about this project, please visit http://www.gofundme.com/homelessjesusindy.
Click here to see more about the ‘Homeless Jesus’ project on WISH-TV.
Nimmons is the Indiana Conference communications director and can be reached at 317-564-3242 or firstname.lastname@example.org.