Meet our pastor

Bruce Cole

Pastor, Riverside Baptist

Bruce places issues of justice and peace at the center of his ministry. As a member and ordained minister in connection with the Alliance of Baptists (very different than the fundamentalist Southern Baptist denomination), Bruce is a whole-hearted advocate of theological diversity, combining progressive inquiry, contemplative prayer, and prophetic action to bring about justice, healing, and reconciliation in a changing world.

Bruce has served congregations in the Chicago area, North Carolina, and now Jacksonville. He has worked with food pantries, cooperated with community leaders to oppose voter suppression in North Carolina, served as a coach and consultant to clergy and churches as they seek to revitalize their ministries, served a summer residency as a critical care chaplain, and served as an adjunct faculty member in Association of Chicago Theological Schools (ACTS) Doctor of Ministry in Preaching summer sessions. Bruce received his Master of Divinity degree from the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago in 1998.

Brent Bearid

Associate Pastor For Pastoral Care

“Brent Beaird has spent most of his adult life doing the two things he loves to do the most - writing about sports and tending to the spiritual needs of people who are facing death. Let that sink in for a minute.” – excerpted from a Florida Times-Union feature on Brent by Lamar Thames, April 9, 2016.

Brent lives a full life as a dad of two grown daughters of whom he is immensely proud, as a chaplain with Community Hospice of Northeast Florida, as Associate Pastor of Pastoral Care at Riverside Baptist Church, and as the college football expert and analyst on First Coast News and Sports Radio 930. Brent graduated from the University of Alabama and received his Master of Divinity degree from Southwest Baptist Theological Seminary.


John BarryOrganist & Choirmaster

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Donna ClarkeOffice Adminstrator

States, lived in several states, and in Spain and Sicily. As family of a member of the Armed Forces, she has adapted her career to the places they were stationed. As a result, she helped open the first Nautilus/Fitness Center in the Mediterranean Theater,co- managed the Youth Activities program on base in Sigonella Sicily, and ran a screen print shop on base in Patuxent River, Maryland. She is a certified Montessori Teacher, an ISAT Aerobics Instructor, and has studied as a Legal Assistant. Donna and her husband, Norman, love the outdoors, family, and taking Ballroom Dance Classes.

Rodney StewartFacilities Manager

Rodney Stewart is a former multi-state judo champion who now puts his martial arts skill to work as Riverside’s facilities manager. When necessary, he breaks boards with his heads. Rodney not only keeps our historic building operational, he cares for and mentors many in the Riverside community with generous portions of love, good humor, and gentleness.