Community West Foundation: Local Churches Tour Matthew 25 Collection

Last month, two local parishes recently toured the Matthew 25 Collection statues located downtown and on the near west side of Cleveland. St. Augustine Church located in Tremont gathered parishioners and friends to travel to each of the locations via bus. While on the bus, they prayed the rosary as a group and they spent time reflecting at each sculpture. St. Peter’s Episcopal Church of Lakewood hosted a youth and family bike ride to visit the artwork. A group of families met at Malachi Church, host of the Homeless Jesus piece, then trekked around on their bikes to see the remainder of the collection.

St. Peter’s Episcopal Church of Lakewood youth and family bike ride.

In 2017, Community West Foundation purchased a replica of the Homeless Jesus sculpture by Canadian artist, Timothy Schmalz. This single artwork traveled to dozens of churches and partner organizations as a powerful public reminder of the importance of caring for those in need. In October of 2020, Homeless Jesus was situated on the grounds of Saint Barnabas Episcopal Church in Bay Village in a location facing Bradley Road Park. Shortly after its arrival, local police were notified of a homeless person laying on a park bench. The call was picked-up by local news outlets, sparking significant public dialogue, along with a flurry of local, national and international media attention. Issues of privilege, compassion, and empathy, among others, were brought to light.

The artwork had accomplished what great public art should: create dialogue and cause people to see familiar spaces and places in a new light.

St. Augustine Church gathered parishioners and friends to travel to each of the locations via bus.

With this in mind, Community West Foundation expanded this important conversation with the acquisition of five of the six permanent artworks in this series created by Schmalz. The sixth artwork, When I Was Hungry and Thirsty, was acquired several years ago by Old Stone Church and is installed in front of the church on Public Square, in downtown Cleveland.

The mission of Community West Foundation is to advance the health and well-being of our community. As a funder, they provide grants to nonprofit organizations that offer basic needs programs and services to those in need in Cleveland, Western Cuyahoga and Lorain Counties. The staff and Board of Directors take guidance from the Gospel of Matthew to direct their grantmaking and view this artwork as a visual representation of their purpose.

The six artworks and their host sites are:

  • Homeless Jesus: Saint Malachi Parish, 2459 Washington Avenue
  • When I Was Sick: Cleveland Clinic Lutheran Hospital, 1730 West 25th Street
  • When I Was in Prison: Bridge CLE, 3389 Fulton Road
  • When I Was a Stranger: The Refugee Response at Urban Community School, 2054 West 47th Street
  • When I Was Naked: Malachi House, 2810 Clinton Avenue
  • When I was Hungry and Thirsty: Old Stone Church, 91 Public Square

Cleveland is only the second city in the world, following Rome, Italy, to have the full collection of all six bronze figures in the Matthew 25 Collection.

Community West encourages all churches, bible studies and youth groups to consider a trip to see the collection. Visit www.Matthew25CLE.org for more information on the artwork as well as a map to take the self-guided tour.

For more information, contact Community West Foundation at 440-360-7370 or visit communitywestfoundation.org.

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