A few months ago internationally renowned sculpture Tim Schmalz offered one of his celebrated sculptures of the ‘Homeless Jesus’ to central London, and this tremendous opportunity was gladly taken up by Methodist Central Hall Westminster. We felt – and still strongly feel – that such a sculpture resonates deeply with our Methodist Wesleyan tradition, and its strong focus on social justice. Another such sculpture was recently unveiled at St Peter’s Basilica in Rome, and a small number of others can be found in key world city sites including in Toronto, Chicago and Dublin.
All applications for such works of art need the approval from Westminster City Council, and a few days ago Methodist Central Hall made application. One criteria the City Council use to decide whether or not an application is successful is feedback, both locally in the area and more generally. The ministry team and congregation of Methodist Central Hall Westminster are wholly supportive of this sculpture being situated close to its front doors, facing Parliament Square. We believe it would speak profoundly – as fine art often does – to some of the deep issues facing our society today: not least homelessness and poverty.
In order for our application to be successful considerable support is needed to be received by Westminster City Council AND, as is the way of these processes, made very quickly. Consequently, all indications of support (and objections) must be received by Monday 21st December 2015!
A fuller account of the rationale for our application can be found here.
Please support our application and please spread the Word!
Excerpt from the application to Westminster City Council.
The congregation at Methodist Central Hall Westminster is now international and includes those who have been in the past homeless and migrants. The congregation is fully supportive of the plan to site this sculpture outside the church.
In spite of the fact that we did not specifically commission this piece, we were honoured to be offered the artwork, especially as we will be the first Methodist Church to have one world-wide. Moreover, its theme resonates deeply with the specific ministries associated with the church in a number of ways: that is why, for the first time in over a century, such an application is being made by the church – we see its aptness! We are concerned about homelessness and, as a Church, support many valuable projects – including the work of The Passage – helping homeless people, the Churches’ Winter Nightshelter project in Westminster, the Saint Vincent Family Project (located in the building), the Westminster Food Bank, etc. – all dealing with related issues. In our community there are many homeless people, this work of art identifies with them
The origins of the church as a Methodist Central Hall lie with the notion of a ‘pew on the pavement’, the lessening of distance between the ‘sacred’ and the ‘secular’. Indeed, Central Halls always were the places of confluence between the life of ‘church’ and a close identity with the political and social realities of wider society. It is very important for us that this statue of Jesus will be outside the Church and not inside.