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‘Homeless Jesus’ in earshot of Big Ben

21 November 2014

by Paul Wilkinson and Madeleine Davies

Timothy P. Schmalz

A SCULPTURE of Christ sleeping rough should soon find a home at the Methodist Central Hall, London.

Its creator, Tim Schmalz, a Canadian, had hoped that his work Jesus the Homeless would go to St Martin-in-the-Fields, in Trafalgar Square (News, 19 September); but, despite the church's long-standing ministry to the homeless, the Vicar, Canon Sam Wells, said that he could not accept it because of a rule banning anyone from sleeping or lying down inside the church.

Mr Schmalz said: "Methodist Central Hall expressed so much interest in the sculpture, and they informed me of the history of how their whole mission statement was to merge the secular with the spiritual, and 100 years ago that was essentially their intention - to create Central Hall in the heart of London to administer to the poor and the people not necessarily familiar with imagery of Christianity.

"The idea of the sculpture is so coherent with that, as it's supposed to merge with a secular cityscape. So it was not only the theology behind the Methodist Central Hall, but also the location near Westminster, where you have millions and millions of people visiting every year, from every part of the world.

"My mission is to spread this gospel message to as many places in the world, and to have a location like that is absolutely ideal."

He hopes that his lifesize bronze of a recumbent Christ on a park bench will be placed to one side of the Hall's main entrance. "If the homeless Jesus got up from his sleeping, he would be able to see Westminster Abbey straight ahead, with Big Ben in the distance," Mr Schmaltz said.

He wants to put casts of his sculpture in every large city in the world, and said that he had already received inquiries from the Vatican, Washington, DC, Dublin, and Wales.

Canon Wells described placing the statue at St Martin-in-the-Fields as "sending coals to Newcastle". He said: "We don't need a statue; we are the real thing."

The Superintendent Minister at Methodist Central Hall, the Revd Martin Turner, said: "Subject to planning permission, we hope that Jesus the Homeless will find a place at Methodist Central Hall, Westminster, soon. Often, our image of Christ has become so sanitised that we easily forget that 'the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.'"

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