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Former EC chairman Sam Pace dies

ANTLERS, Okla. (BP)–Sam Pace, a former chairman of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Executive Committee, died Oct. 23 at the age of 80 at a hospital in Paris, Texas.

Pace also was the 1980-81 president of the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma and served from 1971-91 as director of missions for the Comanche-Cotton Baptist Association based in Lawton, Okla.

Pace was a member of the SBC Executive from 1983-91 and was chairman from 1989-91.

Morris H. Chapman, president of the SBC Executive Committee and president of the convention from 1990-92, said in a statement to Baptist Press, “During my fist year as president of the SBC, I had the privilege of working closely with Sam Pace in his role as chairman of the Executive Committee. I found him to be a man of courage, compassion and conviction. His hand held a steady helm as the SBC ship faced a time of turbulent waters in denominational life. He faithfully served His Lord and Southern Baptists. We will miss his wisdom and leadership.”

Among the issues handled during Pace’s EC chairmanship was the dismissal of two staff members from Baptist Press, BP director Al Shackleford and news editor Dan Martin, in 1990 amid disputes over the fairness of their reports on the issue of biblical inerrancy within the SBC.

Describing Pace as a great leader, Anthony Jordan, executive director of the Oklahoma Baptist convention, said, “God uniquely positioned him in leadership in our state and in the SBC during the Conservative Resurgence. He stood tall and straight on the Scripture as God’s inerrant and infallible Word. He was a country gentlemen and all of us who knew and loved him give thanks to God for having been touched by his life.”

Pace lived in Antlers, Okla., his hometown, and was a member of First Baptist Church, where he was baptized in 1943 and licensed to the ministry in 1944.

Prior to his work with the Comanche-Cotton association, Pace had led churches in Oklahoma City; Anadarko and Talihina, Okla.; Bloomburg, Texas, and Winnsboro, La.

In 1945, he joined the U.S. Marine Corps during World War II and served in the Pacific and in China.

After earning a bachelor’s degree from Ouachita Baptist University in Arkadelphia, Ark., in 1951, Pace attended New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary and Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary later during the ’50s.

He is survived by his wife, Margaret; three sons, Sam, Alan and Scott; one daughter, Lydia; 13 grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren. He was preceded in death by 10 siblings.

His funeral will be at 2 p.m. Friday, Oct. 26, at First Baptist, Antlers. Memorials may be sent to First Baptist Church’s building fund or to the Kiamichi Baptist Assembly in Talihina, Okla.
Art Toalston is editor of Baptist Press.