In February, the Rev. Steve Pace, pictured with his wife, Becky, was voted in as the new pastor by the congregation of Otterville Southern Baptist Church, the same church Pace started attending when he was 9.
Serving the Lord has taken the Rev. Steve Pace many places throughout his life, but this year, it’s taken him to a familiar place — home.
In February, Pace was voted in as the new pastor by the congregation of Otterville Southern Baptist Church, the same church Pace started attending when he was 9 when his family moved from Tucson, Ariz., to Otterville.
Pace, a military veteran, had been stationed in Fort Hood, Texas, from January 2010 to February 2013. He had been home only a few short weeks and resumed attending the church when the then-pastor, the Rev. Steven Helfrich, announced that he would be leaving the church as he was called to a new church being established, also known as a church plant.
Initially, Pace had reservations about applying for the pastor position.
"I had just gotten home from Fort Hood after three years of being away," Pace said. "I made every excuse in the world, prayed that someone would come as pastor, even though I knew in my heart that I was being called."
After speaking with the Rev. Ed Haun, who served as an interim pastor after Helfrich left, Pace decided to throw his name in the ring as a candidate.
"There is no one that loves Otterville Baptist Church more than I do, and I want to see it grow. Otterville Baptist Church is a part of my DNA. It is the church that I grew up in. I started going there as a little kid at age 9. I gave my life to the Lord there and was baptized when I was 12," Pace said.
"The fondest memories that I have as a child were all at Otterville Baptist Church. It was because of the church and the foundation that it gave me, that I am where I am today. When you love something that much, how could I not throw my hat in the ring and allow God to use the gifts that he has given me for the people that I care most about?"
As the new pastor, Pace is focusing on a community message.
"We are a country church that still believes in families and community. We believe that everyone has a part and a place to use the gifts that God has given them. It's not about going to a church, but being part of a community. A community of believers that love Jesus Christ with all their heart and love one another. It's not about the worship service, the pastor, the youth program or the children's program. It's about Jesus, it's about family and it's about community."
Pace resides in Jerseyville with his wife, Becky, and they have four children: Troy, 21, attends Hannibal-LaGrange, majoring in biology pre-medicine; Alyssa, 20, attends Baylor University, majoring in mathematics; Timothy James, 18, is a senior at JCHS; and Abby, 15, is a sophomore at JCHS.
In addition to serving as pastor at Otterville Baptist Church, Pace serves as a chaplain with the U.S. Army Reserve, and is a professor and the chief financial officer at Brookes Bible College in St. Louis.
Raised in Otterville, Pace has a personal stake in the future of Otterville Baptist Church.
"I am part of their community. I was raised in the community. I love the community and want to see it prosper. There is no place in the entire world that I would rather be and rather raise my children. God has blessed my family so much in this community; I only hope I can bless this community back."