A sculpture of a homeless Jesus sleeping on a bench was unveiled today following a short service of dedication by the Bishop of Manchester.
Facing a growing problem of homelessness in the city and a global crisis of people displaced by war and conflict, the figure challenges passers-by to question their attitude towards homeless and marginalised people that they come across in their day-to-day lives.
Rector of St Ann’s, The Revd Nigel Ashworth, said “For many people homelessness is not simply about having no place to call home, but about living with some kind of emotional trauma. By giving the homeless Jesus space outside our church we are showing that we stand in solidarity with the poor and vulnerable, in the same way that Jesus had compassion on them in His earthly ministry.”
Churches across Greater Manchester have responded to the growing homelessness crisis by developing a clear plan of action in partnership with others. City churches open their buildings every year to help provide winter night shelters and other frontline services for homeless people. St Ann’s is also working on a pilot project for street homeless people called ‘Morning Hours’ which provides a warm space, hots drinks and toast, first thing in the morning before any of the city’s day centres open.
The Bishop of Manchester, The Rt Revd Dr David Walker, who chairs the Manchester Homelessness Partnership, 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. This sculpture casts Christ’s words into metal. It links them directly to one of the most visible expressions of human need. Its identical twins can be found in other great cities around the world; a reminder that Manchester today is a truly global city.”