Meeting and ministering together at Solomon’s Porch
Asbury alumni Tim and Erin Gibson, took ownership of Solomon’s Porch almost 14 years ago and set out to offer the community a place where all walks of life were encouraged and welcomed at their table.
Based on Acts 5:12, “The apostles performed many signs and wonders among the people, and all the believers used to meet together in Solomon’s Porch,” the shop is located at 111 E. Main St. in Wilmore, and open from 7 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday, with extended hours on Tuesday and Thursday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. They are closed on Sunday.
Although the couple is not originally from the Bluegrass, Erin said they felt a calling on their life to minister here.
“Tim is from Northfield, New Jersey and I am from Sewickley, Pennsylvania,” Erin said. “We both came to Kentucky to attend Asbury College. After graduation, we searched for jobs and were able to move right back to the area after our wedding in 2002. Tim has a degree in Christian Ministries with a Youth Ministry emphasis and I have a degree in Sociology.”
The couple met at Ichthus, a Christian music festival in Wilmore in 1999, while they were both students at Asbury University. They served together on a mission trip to northern Ireland with New Hope Ministries in 2001 and took ownership of Solomon’s Porch in 2004 from Dr. Ben Witherington, an ATS professor and a world-renowned author.
“We dated throughout college and used to daydream about opening a coffee shop together,” Erin said. “Solomon’s Porch was an existing business in Wilmore when we took over in 2004. The original owner started it in 1996. The building was used as Fletcher’s butcher shop for many years prior to becoming a restaurant. We have delicious food, friendly service and we as owners unabashedly love and serve God and His people with our entire lives.”
Originally believing their ministry through the local coffee shop would be tailored to the university, seminary and local community, Erin said they soon realized their ministry stretched beyond and into the people they were soon employing. Employees were soon at their door who desperately needed employment. From single mothers, ex-cons, recovering addicts and troubled young youths, Solomon’s Porch took part in the community by becoming a supportive environment for those in need.
“We have over the years been able to provide kitchen, cooking, baking and customer service training and experience jobs to dozens of people in need,” Erin said. “We also sell arts and crafts from local vendors who in many cases use their proceeds to support local mission groups.”
The couple serves as leaders to a group of middle school kids at Oasis Community Church in Nicholasville. Together they have a 10-year-old son, Braden, and an 18-year-old daughter, Felicity. Outside of their work at Solomon’s Porch, the couple has set out to restore a 65-acre farm where they wish to continue their ministry.
“Since college, Tim has felt a calling to minister to troubled youth and adults in an agricultural setting,” Erin said. “Using ‘broken horses, for broken people,’ this once abandoned farm and our four rescued horses and other farm animals will be used to mentor and train youth and adults how to live godly lives.”
Together, the owners are passionate about good stewardship locally, environmentally and financially. Striving to have very little food and container waste, the shop recycles everything from cardboard boxes to the smallest order sheets and is 90 percent effective in its efforts. Veggie scraps from the food prep area are also used to feed animals on the couple’s farm or eventually end up in their compost.
“We make smaller product orders more frequently so our food is always fresh and waste is minimal. We order as much local produce as possible throughout the year,” Erin said. “We (also) would eventually love to be able to purchase our building and expand it to suit our current and future needs.”
For the owners, their hope is that Solomon’s Porch will continue to provide a comfortable space for people to continue to come and enjoy good food and fellowship. Their wish is that Solomon’s Porch will continue to minister to not only the community and future employees, but allow them the opportunity to partner with local farms and mission organizations where they will be able to glorify God in their service.
“We also hope that our kids, Braden and Felicity, will want to be an active part of Solomon’s Porch’s future and maybe eventually take over the business here and at the farm,” Erin said. “We are very excited about the new sign on the front of our building. We have an incredible staff right now, some of which have been with us for four to six years. We could not run this business without their hard work and dedication. We are truly blessed.”