A member of the Bodden Town Church of God has been honored for more than six decades of service to the same church.
In recognition of her faithful service, the dozens of well-wishers from the church community surprised “Sister” Ginger Solomon with a reception on Sunday, March 12, at the Family Life Centre on Walkers Road.
Now 87, Ms. Solomon has been part of the congregation since the 1950s. Over the years, she has served the church as an elder, fill-in pastor, Sunday school teacher, usher, choir girl and church caretaker.
As the dedications rolled in, “disciplinarian” and “prayer warrior” were among the words used to describe Ms. Solomon, who was also praised by Church of God Pastor Winston Rose for being dependable, loyal and dedicated to God and the Bodden Town congregation, as well as a “God’s gem” to his family.
Tributes from friends and family noted her commitment to God and his principles, and that she was a wonderful friend to people as far away as Haiti, the United States and Jamaica.
Ms. Solomon’s straightforward, no-nonsense attitude proved a foil to church members who tried to get her out of the house on Sunday to attend the function. She gently refused to go, as she normally would not leave the house on Sunday after church was over, and it took a lot of convincing before she agreed to accompany them.
Ginger Loretta Solomon grew up in a family home on Manse Road, Bodden Town, with her mother Nessie, older sister Valma, her aunt Dosa and sometimes her aunt Letita Gordon and cousin Carl, according to her close friend Mary Lawrence.
Ms. Solomon enjoyed a happy childhood filled with constant activity. Her mother and aunts were all great cooks who believed in doing things the “proper” way, talents Ms. Solomon inherited.
Perfection was also something she strived for, and practiced throughout her life. Ms. Solomon attended the Town Hall School where she excelled in her studies.
Always proud of her independence, to everyone’s surprise she learned to drive and bought herself a car. She also loved to travel and sometimes would take off just for a weekend, or to visit a newly added Cayman Airways destination. During her life, she made trips to London, Europe, the Holy Land, the Far East, the Caribbean and South America, both as a missionary and as a tourist.
When religion came to Manse Road, first with the Latter-Day Saints and then the Church of God, Ms. Solomon was one of the first to enlist. Early on, she and her best friend, the late Floris McCoy, were singled out as leaders, and the young women were sent to Bible School in Jamaica for training in leading Sunday school, church services and playing the piano.
The two were also caretakers of the church, often making sure the church was clean, the gas lights were ready, and the mosquito repellent and smoke pots were in place.
Sunday School lessons, planning programs for service, conducting rehearsals for children and young people for special events like Christmas, Easter, Mother’s Day and Convention, ringing the church bell and making sure everyone was there on time, visiting the sick and shut-ins and spreading the word of God also became their responsibilities.
Ms. Solomon took her responsibilities seriously, and when Ms. McCoy decided to pursue further education abroad, Ms. Solomon took up the slack.
Even when she started work at Caribbean Utilities Company, her church remained foremost in her life. Ms. Solomon joined the company in May 1970, working in several departments as the company developed, and earning the respect of the staff and all those she came in contact with. She retired on April 29, 1999, after 29 years of “faithful and loyal service.” On Heroes Day in January 2010, she received the Queen’s Badge and Certificate of Honour.
Since her retirement from CUC, her life has been totally committed to the work of the church, including the development of the new complex which will also serve the community as a hurricane shelter.
As the church grew, Ms. Solomon has grown with it, holding positions of responsibility and trust, not just within the Bodden Town congregation but on the national level in the General Assembly.
A dedication to young people
Growing up under her strong discipline and Christian influences, Janet Lawrence, Mary Lawrence’s daughter, said Ms. Solomon and church sister Diana Whittaker exemplified the true meaning of the phrase, “It takes a village to raise a child” long before the phrase became popular.
“The behavior of some kids in the community tolerated … today would not have been accepted 40 years ago. You were never allowed to get out of line, she would always cast that stern look of disapproval and immediately tell you to behave,” said Ms. Lawrence, noting the children knew their parents would always find out if they misbehaved. “I still don’t know how she did it. There weren’t any phones and you couldn’t drive,” she said.
Among her treasured memories involving Ms. Solomon are the youth meetings held at the Lawrence family home and at the parsonage. Among the corned beef sandwiches and swanky drink, she said, it was there that many characters were shaped and lives were influenced.
Ms. Solomon was dedicated to youth, and was always there for church picnics, camps, Bible school, Convention, sunrise services, youth fellowship and reaching out to the girls in the Girls’ Home.
As succeeding generations have come to Bodden Town and the church, Ms. Solomon continued to dedicate herself to building the bridges that take young people from child to teenager to adult.
“She never had any children of her own, but the community’s children were all her children,” said Ms. Lawrence.
“When they grew up and started having kids, Ms. Solomon adopted them the same way. Their childhood memories of her are the same as their parents’. Ms. Solomon’s light and legacy is evident every day in the lives she touched and influenced for generations,” said Ms. Lawrence.
Added Mary Lawrence, “Her relationship and empathy with young people made us regard her as a “Mother in Israel.”