I thought it might be helpful, interesting, and fun to get to know some of our “Southside men.” Thus, I asked Reece Comer if he might go where no man has gone before and be interviewed for this “Meet Southside Men” segment. I want to thank Reece for being willing to share with us. I've known Reece for about 23 years. He's a godly man and awesome leader at Southside and in our community. This interview with Reece originally appeared about six years ago, so there may some dated material.
One last word: For the first 12 years or so, our men's ministry was called "Baxter Boys." Many of us still refer to it as that. It was named after a hero of mine, Richard Baxter. Over the last three years I've started referring to our ministry as Southside Men, primarily for easier communication.
Now, on with the interview…
1.) Tell us a little about yourself (i.e., where you’re from, where you went to school, where you work, etc.,) and about your family.
My wife Vera and I are from Rock Hill, a little town in SC where we met in Mr Greer’s science class in the 7th grade. I finished highschool there and attended undergraduate studies at The Citadel in Charleston where I majored in civil engineering. I was on a USAF pilot scholarship while there but with Vietnam winding down the USAF gave me the option to terminate and allowed me to attend graduate school at Ga Tech (THE University in Georgia)… After Tech I started my professional career here in Jacksonville in 1978 working for JEA and have been here ever since. Early in our marriage I went to UNF at nights and finished an MBA. That last semester is still the only time Vera has ever mentioned divorce to me, hence my last degree…. Vera and I have raised 3 children Reece III, Brittany, & Travis, 25,23,21 respectively and each (under the threat of death or even more severe penalties) has completed or are close to completing their undergraduate degrees. I currently am self employed in small project management business that my partner (Mark Momberg) and I own.
2.) How did you come to faith in Christ?
I was similar to our Bishop Henderson who acknowledged a drug problem early in life because we were both drug to church by our mothers at every opportunity…. I accepted Christ as my personal savior in high school due almost exclusively to the efforts of my best friend David Stroud. David was the epitome of persistence going to great lengths to get the message across. He even wrote and directed a play in a local drama festival in which he cast me as Jesus. Talk about driving home a point!
3.) How long have you been a member of Southside? What or who brought you to Southside?
After a brief sabbatical of about 15 years I returned to church here at Southside with Vera after our first son was born. Although it doesn’t seem that long I guess I have been here for 20+ years. WOW, that even seems long to me.
4.) How long have you been a part of Southside Men? What or who brought you? What’s been most meaningful to you about being a part of our men's ministry?
Soon after joining SSUMC I met a young associate pastor named Dale Tedder. Recognizing that as an engineer I was a slave to my own logic, he introduced me to apologetics and the hook was set. For the first time I understood that I had a personal Lord and Savior AND it was logical. What more could an engineer ask for? That young pastor left us for a time to pursue advanced degree studies and when he came back, started a small group study in his den. We were pretty quiet back in those days since his kids weren’t up at that hour. Our group began to grow and so the church was either going to have to buy Dale an auditorium to live in or move our Baxter Boys into the church where we still meet.
5.) What’s been your favorite (or had the most influence on you) study that we’ve done in Baxter Boys and why?
Without question the study we did on spiritual disciplines. The in-depth study of the spiritual disciplines and stories of great men of the faith who practiced them was a real eye opener to me and really helped me grow. My experiences at The Citadel left me with a keen appreciation of discipline in general so the study appealed to me on a number of levels. I gained a much better understanding of things like meditation and fasting, and realized for the first time the spiritual power of these disciplines.
6.) What are some of the ways you are serving and leading at Southside? How do those things bless you?
I have served in many positions and on many of the committees that run the church. Having made those rounds makes me respect and appreciate the hard work that all of the people on those committees do. Each is essential to the operation of the church. I did pretty well at some of those jobs and was a miserable failure at others before I learned that you need to serve where your passions lay. At that point I learned to say “NO” to the many worthy causes and task that were other peoples passions and chose to serve where God had gifted me to be my best. At this point in my life those opportunities for service are Baxter Boys and as a volunteer in Troop 35, sponsored by Southside.
7.) What’s your favorite Bible verse and why?
Proverbs 27:17 “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another”, or as I like to abbreviate it Fe^Fe. I greatly prefer to share bible study with other men. When it is genuine and sincere there is no better spiritual growth environment. The all male part may also be a rebellion against the drug problem I had earlier in life…..
8.) How have you grown in your faith during the last year? What are your spiritual goals for this coming year?
During the last year the construction industry here in north Florida and across the country has been in tough times. Our business all but collapsed during the worst months. Through it all God has carried me by calming my anxious moments and helping me to focus on other more important things like family, worship, service to others and contentment with what I have. Instead of being bitter about lost revenues and not shooting as much (one of my more expensive hobbies), I have found myself reflecting and rejoicing in the un-merited blessing that surround me.
For the coming year I hope to be able to provide the support that my extended family will need and make my spiritual accountability group a more regular event. I have found some brothers in the faith that share my values and want to be held accountable to those values in every aspect of their lives. I am blessed to know them and hope to be a blessing (and persistent challenge if needed) to them.
9.) What’s the biggest challenge for you as a Christian in the workplace?
I only want to work with solid Christian men…. and then I wake up. The construction industry is not without its lost sheep. I have the blessing of a solid Christian partner in the my business but we face many relationships with others who are lost or are not even looking for Christ. Mark and I want to be known as Christians who always do the right and fair thing. Our biggest challenge is convincing some clients to overlook a short term gain and in stead look to the long term value of doing the right thing consistently. For our business, being trustworthy, is the most important asset we bring to the table.
10.) And the perennial favorite: What three people from history would you most want to have dinner with and why?
Richard Baxter- to let him know that he made a difference in the world and that his writings and ideas are still inspiring lives every day right here at Southside and to share our struggles with daily living the way God intended.
Lord Baden Powell- founder of Boy Scouts in England- to talk about the worldwide organization that BSA has become and see if we are being true to the ideals that were the founding principles he originally conceived.
Jesus- Are you sure you intended to go to all that trouble and pain for a sinner like me? And if time permitted, maybe some tips to help my meager woodworking ability….
Stay tuned for our May Brother of the Month.