A new sculpture in Manchester is making people in our city centre think about Jesus Christ in a new way. The sculpture is not of Jesus as a baby or Jesus on a cross, or even Christ in glory. This time Jesus is depicted as a homeless man lying on a bench.
The work “Jesus the Homeless” is by Canadian artist Timothy Schmalz, and is one of a series of casts in cities around the world including Washington DC, Dublin, Glasgow and Singapore. This one was rejected by planners in Westminster but granted planning permission by Manchester City Council. It has been installed outside St Ann’s Church on St Ann Street in the central retail district.
The statue was unveiled in April 23rd 2018 by two homeless men called Dave and Ian and blessed by the Bishop of Manchester, the Rt Revd David Walker, who said, “Jesus is very explicit in the Bible – when we offer or refuse care to those in need, we will be judged as though he himself were the needy person before us.”
St Ann’s Church raised the money to place the statue in front of its church building. The church is active in helping homeless people in the city, including a new project called ‘Morning Hours’, in which hot drinks and toast are provided to rough sleepers before day centres open.
Rector of St Ann’s Church, the Revd Nigel Ashworth, said the artwork would ‘challenge passers-by to question their attitude towards homeless and marginalised people that they come across in their day-to-day lives’.