DAVIDSON, N.C. (WCNC) -- A sculpture of Jesus as a homeless man installed
outside a church in Davidson has neighbors and church leaders debating
its message and appropriateness.
According to articles on sculptor Timothy P. Schmalz's website, the same
"Homeless Jesus" now at St. Alban's Episcopal Church was rejected by
cathedrals in New York and Canada. Schmalz's site also includes articles
claiming Pope Francis blessed and accepted "Homeless Jesus" into
From a distance, especially at dusk, you would swear the sculpture is a
real-life homeless man sleeping on a bench in front of the church.
Cindy Castano Swannack called police the first time she drove by it.
"I was concerned for the safety of the neighborhood," she said.
A closer look reveals it is bronze, not flesh and bone.
Crucifixion marks in the feet offer the only clue to the man's identity
on the sculpture itself. A plaque next to it shows the "Homeless Jesus,"
title and that the inspiration came from a passage in Matthew: 25.
"It's Jesus representing the most marginalized of society," said Rev. Doctor David E. Buck, the rector at St. Alban's.
Buck says the sculpture combines beauty, art and religion.
"We're reminded of what our ultimate calling is as Christians, as people
of faith, to do what we can individually and systematically to
eliminate homelessness," Buck said, "Part of a faith commitment is to
care or the needy."
The work includes room to sit on the bench, which makes it interactive.
It brings church members like Chuck Dillman that much closer to God.
"I've you've been through what I've been through... somehow I got lost
about religion," Dillman said while sitting on the bench.
"It brings me right up here with Him, yeah," said neighbor Ellen
Donaldson, "It gives me an overwhelming sense of peace and comfort."
"I can't understand why anyone wouldn't want this" said Buck.
Swannack says it's an inappropriate message and wrong for the
neighborhood. She wishes it showed Jesus standing over the homeless
"Jesus is not a vagrant, Jesus is not a helpless person who needs our
help," she said, "We need someone who is capable of meeting our needs,
not someone who is also needy."
The work ended up at the church because a member set aside money years
ago to honor a friend and fellow church member who died of cancer in
2007. They finally decided upon a piece of art they liked and gave it to
You may also like...
Underwater Secret: Hidden caves beneath Weeki Wachee
Rollercoaster Rescue: 16 stranded after ride malfunction
Car Crash tragedy: USF students killed in interstate wrong-way crash
Hungry Sinkhole: Hole opens beneath Corvette museum, swallows 8 cars
Be my McValentine: Romantic reservations at McDonald's
Card Game Murder: Man sentenced for Magic: The Gathering killing
Treason? Secret Service visits candidate who says Obama should hang
Sasquatch on Tour: "Dead Bigfoot" on display in Texas
Here kitty, kitty: Lion escapes enclosure at Pasco sanctuary
#ShortYellows: Florida quietly shortened yellow lights
Kittens shot: Officer shoots kittens in front of children
Popular photo galleries:
Faces of Meth: Devastating before and after photos of meth abusers
Trayvon Martin Shooting: Trayvon Martin crime scene photos and George Zimmerman injury photos
Hooters Winners: Winners of the 2013 Hooters swimsuit pageant
Rejected: Funny Florida license plates rejected by the DMV ***warning graphic***
Deadly sinkhole: Home collapses, man dies in giant sinkhole
Florida Sex Offenders: Look up sex offenders in any Florida neighborhood here
Restaurant Inspections: Look up inspection reports for any Florida restaurant here