Church wants Jesus in jeans statue to connect with community

A Catholic church in Uckfield has unveiled a new seven foot high statue of a modern day Jesus wearing jeans and a shirt.

The £35,000 bronze statue at Our Lady Immaculate and St Philip Neri Catholic church was funded by a member of the congregation, the late Winifred Gregory, who died last year at the age of 87, reports The Telegraph.

The statue was made by Marcus Cornish and shows Jesus with a modern beard and hairstyle rather than in a traditional representation, and with the wind apparently blowing his hair and shirt.

The parish priest, Father Buckley was quoted by The Telegraph, "You are always looking for new ways to enrich people in the experience of Christianity and it is good people can be open-minded to appreciate it.

"On the continent you often encounter modern representations of Jesus but it is not so common over here. We wanted a figure of Christ not in suffering but dynamic and welcoming.

"We felt this design summed up the spirit and activity of Christ perfectly and I think it speaks for itself.”

Last year members of a congregation committee started a competition to find a statue which would mark the 50th anniversary of the church. The modern Jesus by Cornish received 200 votes of support from congregants and only 14 against.

Later this week the statue will be raised 100 feet in the air and placed on the top of the bell tower after a gold leaf halo is added to the statue's head.

Mr Cornish said, "The sculpture is simple and direct and I hope it sums up the feeling that Christ is always with us and that we are not to be afraid. His clothing is being blown vigorously to add the sense of him being alive and his strength in defying earthly cares.

"The clothing is loosely contemporary in order to connect Christ to his people now as much as to his past. I hope this sculpture will inspire and communicate in very human terms, reaching out and being relevant to both the congregation and local community."