Ohio Residents Mistake 'Homeless Jesus' Statue for Real Person, Call Cops 20 Mins After Installation

The statue, which depicts a homeless Jesus lying on a bench, was placed outside a church in Bay Village, Ohio

Police were called to a church in Ohio after receiving reports of a homeless person sleeping on a bench only to find out it was a Jesus statue.

The statue was being hosted temporarily on the grounds of St. Barnabas Episcopal Church in Bay Village on Monday, the church announced on Twitter.

However, witnesses mistook the art piece for an actual person and 20 minutes after the installation, cops arrived at the location to investigate, according to the church's pastor, Alex Martin.

"I was having a conversation with a very kind police officer because someone called to report a homeless man sleeping on a park bench. Within twenty minutes...," Martin tweeted.

The church will be having the statue on its grounds until Dec. 1. Bay Village police chief Kathy Leasure confirmed the police received a call about a homeless person on the bench but noted that the caller did mention to police dispatch that they were unsure if the homeless individual was real.

Statue Intended to Raise Awareness About Homelessness

Homeless Jesus
The Homeless Jesus statue on the ground of the St. Barnabas Episcopal Church in Bay Village Twitter

The sculpture, designed by Timothy Schmalz, was purchased by a local philanthropic organisation and is one of many that have been placed at various churches and religious organizations in the area since October 2018, according to the Cleveland Scene

The aim of the statues is to raise awareness about homelessness and Martin believes the police report will help shed more light on the problem.

"[The sculpture] reminds us that, even though homelessness is a not a significant problem in our immediate neighbourhood, we don't have to drive far to find those in tremendous need," he said.

"Perhaps the statue will inspire those who see it to take action and help," the pastor added. "Seeing Jesus depicted this way reminds us that Jesus identified with the outcast and marginalised in his own day. He spent much of his time with tax collectors and prostitutes, largely to the chagrin of polite society."

Martin also shared a donation link to a "Homeless Jesus" fund on Twitter for those who could like to "feed, clothe, and house" the less fortunate.