DAVIDSON: 'Homeless Jesus' sculpture sparks controversy - WSPA.com

'Homeless Jesus' sculpture sparks controversy

Posted: Updated:
© WCNC/NBC Charlotte © WCNC/NBC Charlotte
DAVIDSON, N.C. -

A sculpture of a "Homeless Jesus" outside a church in Davidson has resulted in neighbors and church leaders debating its message and appropriateness, according to WCNC in Charlotte.

The sculptor, Timothy Schmalz, claims on his website that the sculpture outside St. Alban's Episcopal Church was rejected by cathedrals in Canada and New  York. Articles on his site also claim that Pope Francis blessed and accepted the sculpture into Vatican City.

One issue people in Davidson have is that from a distance, especially in the evening, the sculpture looks like a real-life homeless person sleeping on a bench outside the church.

Some have even called the police.

"I was concerned for the safety of the neighborhood," Cindy Castano Swannack told WCNC.

Only upon closer look do people realize it's not a real person.

The only identifying feature on the sculpture itself is the crucifixion marks in the feet. 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."

In order to make the piece interactive, there is room to sit on the bench next to it.

It brings church members like Chuck Dillman that much closer to God.

"If 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.

Not all the church members approve of the sculpture.

Swannack says it's an inappropriate message and wrong for the neighborhood. She says she wishes it showed Jesus standing over a homeless person and protecting them.

"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 the church.

  • Top StoriesTop StoriesMore>>

  • Spartanburg Woman Arrested For Filing False Report

    Spartanburg Woman Arrested For Filing False Report

    Thursday, August 21 2014 8:12 PM EDT2014-08-22 00:12:03 GMT
    Spartanburg County deputies say Kendall Settlemyre was arrested for filing a false report about an assault and attempted robbery near an apartment complex. Photo Courtesy: Spartanburg County Detention CenterSpartanburg County deputies say Kendall Settlemyre was arrested for filing a false report about an assault and attempted robbery near an apartment complex. Photo Courtesy: Spartanburg County Detention Center

    Spartanburg County deputies say a Spartanburg woman was arrested for filing a false report. Deputies say she claimed she was the victim of an assault and attempted robbery near an apartment complex.

    Spartanburg County deputies say a Spartanburg woman was arrested for filing a false report. Deputies say she claimed she was the victim of an assault and attempted robbery near an apartment complex.

  • Springfield Elementary Students Return To School Friday

    Springfield Elementary Students Return To School Friday

    Thursday, August 21 2014 7:13 PM EDT2014-08-21 23:13:58 GMT
    Springfield Elementary School students return to class Friday after power issues forced the school to close.Springfield Elementary School students return to class Friday after power issues forced the school to close.
    Springfield Elementary School students return to class Friday after power issues forced the school to close.  Students will be bused to three other schools, then picked up at the school.
    Springfield Elementary School students return to class Friday after power issues forced the school to close.  Students will be bused to three other schools, then picked up at the school.

  • Kitten Exposes 14 People To Rabies In Anderson Co.

    Kitten Exposes 14 People To Rabies In Anderson Co.

    Thursday, August 21 2014 6:16 PM EDT2014-08-21 22:16:20 GMT
    Fourteen people are getting medical treatment after the Department of Health & Environmental Control said a kitten exposed them to rabies in Anderson County.
    Fourteen people are getting medical treatment after the Department of Health & Environmental Control said a kitten exposed them to rabies in Anderson County.
Powered by WorldNow

250 International Dr.
Spartanburg, S.C. 29303

Telephone: 864.576.7777
Fax: 864.587.5430
Email: webmaster@wspa.com

Can't find something?
Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Media General Communications Holdings, LLC. A Media General Company.