A Bay Village, Ohio, man called the police on a homeless man who was sleeping on a park bench. However, when the police officer came, it was found that the homeless man wasn’t a homeless man at all, but rather a statue of Christ sleeping on a park bench. The officer figured out what happened and the situation was resolved, but, according to the local Episcopal parish that put up the statue in the park, the message was evoked in a powerful way.
According to Alex Martin, the Priest at the Episcopal Parish, St. Barnabas, he said he was having a conversation “within twenty minutes” of the statue’s being placed. This was related to the 9-1-1 call that the officer responded to. In his tweet he states, “Within twenty minutes of the statue arriving, I was having a conversation with a very kind police officer because someone called to report a homeless man sleeping on a park bench.”
The police department also released a statement about the incident. They stated “Had there been a person laying on a bench, our officers are trained first responders and would be able to assess the situation and take the appropriate action. Our officers are able to render first aid in a medical emergency or assist with securing emergency shelter.”
In addition to that, the police department also stated the police are certified in Crisis Intervention Training, “which ‘creates connections between law enforcement, mental health providers, hospital emergency services and individuals with mental illness and their families.'”
According to his parish’s Twitter account, the statue is only temporary and seeks to bring awareness to the homelessness in Cleveland and to remind everyone that all people are Created in God’s image.
In an interview with ABC5 Cleveland, Alex Martin stated “[The sculpture] reminds us that, even though homelessness is not a significant problem in our immediate neighborhood, we don’t have to drive far to find those in tremendous need. Perhaps the statue will inspire those who see it to take action and help… Seeing Jesus depicted this way reminds us that Jesus identified with the outcast and marginalized in his own day. He spent much of his time with tax collectors and prostitutes, largely to the chagrin of polite society.”
Photo courtesy: St. Barnabas Bay Village Twitter
John Paluska has been a contributor for Christian Headlines since 2016 and is the founder of The Daily Fodder, a news outlet he relaunched in 2019 as a response to the constant distribution of fake news.