It was a warm summer’s day when Irene Pace dedicated her life to Christian service. She had been baptized at an early age and had gone to a Christian church all of her life, but this day was different. It was the day she decided to commit her life fully to accomplish the Lord’s work in service to others. It was the day she felt a calling to become a missionary.
Irene was filled with an overwhelming sense of gratitude. She had been transformed by God’s love, and it was her hope to love in the same way Christ loves others. She packed her bags for college and moved from her hometown of Des Moines, Iowa to Cincinnati, Ohio to attend Cincinnati Bible College and pursue what was placed on her heart.
Except God had a different plan for her—an even better one than she could have imagined: she met Talmage Amis Pace and became a preacher’s wife.
A young Pace family.
Love & Ministry
It all started with a basketball game. Irene had been working at the YMCA as a secretary while she was going to college. Talmage, by chance, had been playing basketball at the YMCA when she was on duty. They realized they both were studying at the same nearby Bible college.
Later, back on campus, Talmage stopped by the women’s dorm to find the beautiful young lady he’d met at the YMCA. He wanted to take her out on a date. Irene recalled seeing the tall, handsome, skinny young man with knobby knees awkwardly standing in the lobby. In his excitement to find her, Talmage realized he didn’t even know her name!
After many laughs and many dates over the months, they made plans to get married.
“We did not have much money, but it was a church wedding on Christmas Day,” Irene shared. “We didn't have time for a honeymoon, and funds were tight, so we rode a bus back to Cincinnati, where he went back to his preaching point and back to school.”
Talmage always wanted to become a preacher. He had been preaching on weekends during their dating days. Irene was the breadwinner at the beginning of their marriage, so Talmage could finish his education and become a minister full-time. When Talmage graduated, they moved to Illinois so he could preach at West Village Christian Church. However, it was in Clay City, Illinois where Talmage truly jump-started his career as a preacher.
“As long as I am able, I will do whatever I can to serve Him. I do it because I am eternally grateful for what Jesus did for me.” —Irene Pace
In Clay City, the church’s previous building had burned down in a fire several years before Irene and Talmage arrived. As the church dismissed some of the staff, a few of the remaining churchgoers arranged to continue meeting. They hoped to buy a new church building, and they needed a new preacher as well. That is when Talmage and Irene answered their call. Clay City was also the town where David was born, the first of Talmage and Irene's five children.
“The church met in a masonic lodge up above an ice cream parlor the fall we were there,” Irene remembered. “When they got far enough along in the new church building, we eventually met in the basement. That was where we could meet while they were finishing the building upstairs.”
After a few years of being settled in at the new church, they decided to visit Colorado on vacation and fell in love with a very different part of the country. They made plans to move westward and find a new preaching position in their new home. Talmage began preaching at First Christian Church in Longmont, Colorado as a substitute preacher until they could find a replacement. Ten years later, Talmage was preaching at that same church—the substitute became permanent!
Their next adventures were in church planting. They followed the Lord's call to Phoenix, AZ where they started Northwest Christian Church. From there, they moved back to Colorado to start Bear Valley Christian Church, Westminster Christian Church as well as Southeast Christian Church—where they stayed until their children were grown.
Irene and Talmage at their wedding
Fulfillment as a Preacher’s Wife
Irene found great joy in working alongside her husband throughout his preaching career. By serving with him in the church, she felt transformed as a minister’s wife.
“I felt like I grew in my faith from being so active in the church and meeting the missionaries that came,” Irene said. “I was also the church secretary everywhere we went. I loved that I got to know the church even better than just being there on Sundays.”
Irene, as all pastor’s wives and church staff members know, did much more to serve the church. She taught Sunday School to children in elementary and junior high, she sang in the choir, and she was actively involved in women’s groups.
“When you are involved in the Church all the time, you cannot help but grow and love the Lord more and more,” she explained. “I had wonderful opportunities to grow in my faith because of Talmage’s intense love for the Lord and the Church. Seeing his love and patience for the people—I felt like I was gaining from just being active in that work. I also saw the work of some of the dear people in the churches where we served and how much they loved the Lord. It inspired me to try to give more of my life to the Lord.”
A Calling for Retired Pastors, Widows, & Missionaries
While Talmage and Irene were in Longmont, Colorado, they were approached on behalf of a former preacher and his wife. The fellow servants of the Lord were in desperate need of groceries and medical supplies. Talmage decided to visit this couple, hoping to be a helping hand.
“He was just appalled that this dear couple that had given their lives in the Lord's work had nothing,” Irene said. “They had no income because there was not any retirement fund of any kind for retired ministers. On top of that, his wife was bedfast.”
When Talmage came back from giving aid to this couple, he vowed that he would never let that happen to his family. Years later, Talmage’s son, David Pace, took on his father’s legacy and began the Kairos Benevolence Fund (KBF) as a way to help retired ministers, missionaries, and widows who have served the Lord so faithfully and who have nowhere else to turn for financial needs.
“I really feel that love was put on David's heart after hearing his dad tell of people who did not have retirement incomes,” Irene noted. “It just grew on his heart to work with them. Talmage thought it was important to take care of the retired pastors and wives, and it is something I think David got from his dad.”
With this same passion in her own heart, Irene is a faithful donor to KBF.
“I am so thankful that today CDF has that ministry and can help ministers and missionaries and widows who are sick and in need of finances to help with their bills that they acquire in their illnesses. I am very, very grateful to know that there is an organization concerned with taking care of their needs as they do now.”
Irene and her great-grandson, Nolan Talmage Milbrandt
Serving the Lord in Her 90s
After Talmage went to be with the Lord 11 years ago, being a widow is the current chapter in Irene’s life. A few years ago she moved from the brisk mountains of Colorado to the Arizona desert, where she attends the Voyager Resort Chapel each week.
She passionately exclaimed, “The Lord is not through with me yet! I want to stay active in the Lord's service as long as I am able. I sing in the choir, am an assistant leader in the ladies Bible studies on Fridays, attend a coed Bible study on Thursday evenings, and sometimes read the morning Scripture reading and serve communion on Sundays.”
Irene still enjoys helping God’s Kingdom grow however she can.
“One way I can serve the Lord is with the money that we were able to save. While I am not as active in being a Bible school teacher anymore or doing mission work, I can still give to CDF and KBF.”
Both by serving her local community and investing in the Church has a whole, Irene is still participating in the sowing. She is still participating in the blessings.
“The money that Talmage and I were able to acquire as savings I invested at CDF so I can continue to do the Lord’s work,” she said. “As long as I am able, I will do whatever I can to serve Him. I do it because I am eternally grateful for what Jesus did for me.”
Irene reflected what her offerings mean to the Kingdom at age 91.
“We have had a love for churches and being able to have good places to worship the Lord. I felt that was something that Talmage and I had been interested in, so that is one reason we invested with CDF. And I feel giving to KBF blesses me, knowing I am able to help the Lord's retired servants in their times of physical need,” she said.
Irene ends by thinking about her dreams for her children and their children—and their children.
“The dream for my children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren is for them to ‘love the Lord with all their heart and soul and mind’ (Deuteronomy 6:5). I hope that they get active in the church, in Bible school, in mission work, or whatever God has placed on their hearts. It is the most wonderful thing that they can do and the best place they can invest their money.”
Transforming the Kingdom
Irene has created a Kingdom legacy in ministry and in generosity. Her KBF donations provide security for servants of the Lord who are in need, and her CDF investments provide the means for church growth. We are grateful to partner with faithful servants like Irene, who offer their resources for God’s transformational work.