A grandson once told his grandfather, who was a minister, that he "only worked on Sunday."
The grandfather laughed about it, but he knew better. Most pastors would agree — Sunday is not the only day they work.
The Rev. Tim Solomon, who has been pastor at Emmanuel Church for 26 years, know that first-hand — as many pastors do.
Because of finances at the church, he was changed from full-time to part-time at Emmanuel eight years ago. He told them he might have to look for other opportunities, but laughed as he said, "I haven't left yet."
Ordained as both a United Church of Christ and a Presbyterian minister in 1985, Solomon was offered the part-time position of pastor of Presbyterian Church of the Redeemer three-and-one-half years ago. So, now between the two churches, he is a busy pastor.
He is one of the longest serving ministers in the Meadville area, he noted, saying the Rev. Jeff Conley of Christian and Missionary Alliance Church came at just about the same time as Solomon to succeed the late Herb Ziegler at Emmanuel. Solomon first came as an interim pastor, but the congregation decided they wanted him to become the permanent pastor.
Of course, the main focus of the ministry is the worship service itself and Solomon said he spends time not only preparing his sermons, but arranging for all aspects of the service and preparing the bulletin. When he prepares his sermon, he doesn't write it out, preferring to speak without a written sermon. He laughed as he said the same sermon might be preached differently at each church because of that.
He considers music an important part of the service and spends time teaching new songs to the congregation. Emmanuel used to have a contemporary service also, but now offers a traditional service. Church of the Redeemer has a blended service of new songs and traditional hymns.
Since the coronavirus hit, he has had to give his sermon through Facebook or YouTube. Another important part of his ministry is visiting parishioners, especially those who are hospitalized, and that also has been different during the pandemic.
Solomon's other time is spent on Bible studies and small group discussions — and studying the Scriptures, which he considers very important. In fact, studying the Scriptures so he can give that message to his people is one of his favorite parts of the ministry.
He said it is important for people to understand the Bible and take the good news of Christ to others.
The hardest part of a pastor's job, he said, is conducting funerals because they are so emotional as well as important. He said it is difficult to "give an eight-minute eulogy to sum up 80 years of living."
Solomon said his favorite two services each year are Maundy Thursday and Christmas Eve because they incorporate music in unique ways and are very special occasions.
He and his friend, Joel DiAngi, also a pastor, did a special program at Emmanuel for many weeks — reading Scripture and playing music for one hour a week. It was a unique ministry, he said.
Solomon is quick to add that the ministry at the churches is not just him doing it all. He credits his secretary, Shirley Watts, and says if it came down to choosing between them, he believes she would be chosen because she does such a great job and "everyone loves her."
He said Watts is very positive and a great help. He also praised the officers and said the church is not just the pastor — it's the people.
The women's group at Emmanuel also is active with rummage sales, a bazaar, and the annual sauerkraut dinner on Election Day.
He said there are only two youth at the Redeemer Church, but they conducted a vacation Bible school there last year anyway.
Members of his churches also are involved in the community, including serving at the Meadville Soup Kitchen on a regular basis. Solomon strongly believes in taking the good news of Jesus to everyone in the community.
Solomon says he sees himself as a campus minister as he enjoys working with young people, but didn't think he would get the chance. But, he found many opportunities for ministry at campuses in the area. Solomon taught part-time for 12 years as adjunct professor at Allegheny College where he instructed courses on Islam and on the history of the Middle East. He also taught courses about Islam and Jewish-Christian foundations at Penn State Behrend, where he was the Protestant chaplain for three years, and also taught at the University of Pittsburgh at Titusville.
His course on Islam was extremely popular and opened up many wonderful opportunities he never dreamed he would have, he said, particularly after the attacks of 9/11.
Solomon previously served as associate minister of campus youth ministries at Shadyside Presbyterian Church in Pittsburgh; christian education religious director part-time at the Presbyterian Church of Fairfield, Connecticut; and was part-time chaplain at the University of Bridgeport, also in Connecticut. He also worked in youth ministry at First Presbyterian Church of Meadville, combining the youth at Emmanuel and the Presbyterian Church for several years.
Solomon, who graduated from Allegheny College with a bachelor's degree with a self-designed major in Middle Eastern studies, earned a master of divinity degree from Princeton Theological Seminary and a doctorate in ministry from Hartford University.
His main focus has been spreading the good news about Jesus, he said. He reminds people that it isn't just American Christians that God loves. "Our awesome God" loves all people of all faiths, Solomon said, adding that he believes it's important for people to know that.
Solomon also is involved in the community, having been an officer in the Meadville Area Ministerial Association for several years. He also was active in the multiple sclerosis bicycle ride for many years, along with others from Emmanuel.
Also involved with the Academy Theatre during productions, Solomon considers it part of his ministry — and one that he dearly loves.
For him, his calling has been to serve the God he loves — not just on Sunday, but every day of the week — and not just in the church, but outside as well.
Editor's note: This article was updated June 26 to correct where Solomon received his doctorate in ministry.