"Thou hast given a banner to them that fear thee, that it may be displayed because of truth." — (Psalm 60:4)
"Lift ye up a banner upon the high mountain, exalt the voice unto them." — (Isaiah 13:2)
Devoted To The Defense Of The Church Against All Errors And Innovations
Vol.VII No.I Pg.27
Septermber 1944

A Tribute To R. W. Comer

J. Clyde Shacklett

During 1911, while he was one of the elders of the Russell Street Church, Brother R. W. Comer observed the need for a place of worship in the vicinity of Chapel Avenue. Realizing the fact that Russell Street church had a large membership, and capable eldership, he with a few others purchased from the Baptists the small meeting house, which Bro. T. Q. Martin referred to as the "cracker box," and began keeping house for the Lord. (In the near future we hope to give you a reproduction of one of the early bulletins of Chapel Ave. Church showing a picture of the "cracker box.") Having "put his hand to the plow," he has never looked back. Although the number was few at the beginning and many things discouraging, this group has never ceased to worship "upon the first day of the week" according to the divine pattern. The responsibility of this work rested almost wholly upon Bro. Comer for many years. From the beginning Bro. Comer stood upon the platform that the scriptures furnish a man completely unto every good work, and it has been his policy to do nothing as service and worship to God for which he could not find authority in the New Testament. There was no desire to make the services entertaining other than the simple preaching of the gospel, nor any effort to "soften" the gospel to make it more pleasing to men. Because of this solid foundation, Bro. Comer's determination to stand by it, and his refusal to make any compromise with the forces of evil, God has prospered him, both materially and spiritually. The Chapel Ave. Church has steadily grown in numbers and strength until it is now one of the outstanding congregations in Nashville.

Bro. Comer has always been a liberal contributor and his example has inspired others to be so. As God has profited him materially, Bro. Comer has increased his contributions proportionately. I am sure Bro. Comer understood God's formula for success. "Seek first the Kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things (material blessings) shall be added unto you." (Matt. 6:33)

Like Jacob, Bro. Comer made a vow that at least a certain per cent of his income should go to the Lord. He made it a rule, when not able to be at Chapel Avenue at the service, to send his contribution anyway to help carry on the work. Although Bro. Comer has been one of the most liberal in his giving to the church, to orphans and aged homes, to schools where the Bible is taught daily and to charity, he has never boasted nor in any way advertised his gift or sought any publicity whatsoever. What he did along these lines was done for the good that might be done in the name of Christ. But very few of us who are very close to Bro. Comer knew of the extent of his liberality. We did not know it because of his boasting or of his telling us about it, but because we were in position to know, being associated in a business way. I do not doubt that many "good Samaritan" deeds were done about which no one knew but God, Bro. Comer and the recipient.

Another outstanding characteristic of Bro. Comer, was his ability to move freely in all classes of society and at the same time to make everyone feel at ease. Even in his business relations, he had many employees, both white and colored but he never intimidated them or showed any spirit of superiority. The most humble colored employee felt at ease in his presence, and felt free to discuss any problems with him. He tried to influence all to obey the Lord, but never to persuade or force anyone to adopt his view or policy simply to please him. He wanted them to act from conviction only. In the church also, there were no classes or distinctions with him. The rich and the poor were all treated alike. So far as I know, he had no personal enemies. There were men who differed with him politically, religiously and otherwise, but they felt free to discuss their differences without becoming enemies.

There are scores of preachers who sought and received wise counsel from Bro. Comer. Many, are they who have received financial aid from him in going into new and destitute fields to preach the unsearchable riches of Christ. Brother Comer became acquainted with a man who had been a Methodist preacher for about twenty years with a salary of $250.00 per month and who, after hearing the gospel in its primitive purity, preferred to suffer persecution with the people of God than to enjoy the emoluments of the world for a season. When that man had lost his former friends and his salary, Brother Corner gave him employment, and as soon as he was able to begin preaching the pure gospel, Bro. Comer gave his personal endorsement and support, material, moral and spiritual. Such has been some of the work of R. W. Comer. His life has been full of events similar to these. God's promises being true, there is bound to be a rich reward for him "over there." When that white robed throng is gathered around the presence of Almighty God and Christ our King, (I am constrained to exclaim as was said of the beloved Charlotte Fanning about a century ago), if Brother Comer is not in that company, then Nashville and Davidson County will not be represented.

Finally Bro. Comer gave the best that he had to the Lord. He endeavored to do everything in word or in deed, in the name of Christ, thru the spiritual body of Christ, which is the church of Christ. We who are younger and who served with him in many ways, were often admonished by him to always stand for that which is right. His final message sent to me by his son was to guard that which is committed unto thee. Perhaps he had in mind Paul's charge to Timothy as recorded in I Tim. 6:20-21. I am sure he had the work at Chapel Avenue at heart. God forbid that we should ever deny our Lord, or betray the confidence Bro. Comer had in us. I know of no one left behind who is big enough to wear that great mantle which he wore, but I pray God that we may be true to that trust.

May God bless the memory of Bro. Comer.