Mark Pace wears two hats at First Pres

Sandra ClarkDowntown, Our Town Faith

Mark Pace could be called an ecumenical music guy. Over a 40-year career in church music, he has led worship services at a Methodist church in Rocky Mount, North Carolina; an Episcopalian church in Massachusetts; and now he is organist and director of music at First Presbyterian in Knoxville.

“And I grew up in the Baptist church,” he says with a laugh.

Mark is serious about his music, but he’s also fun to talk with. He says Knoxville’s choir is his best although it’s not his largest. He attributes that to the musical talent of the choir members.

The choir at First Presbyterian Church

“Knoxville is a cultural center with the symphony, three opera companies, the music program at the university, live theater and more. Three-fourths of my choir members are professional musicians.”

Mark leads his choir while seated at the organ, centered in front of the singers. Occasionally, he raises his left hand; but he’s already managing three keyboards on the pipe organ.

A native of Hendersonville, North Carolina, he holds three music degrees from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and is a certified music teacher although he’s never taught school. His wife, Tracy Pace, is a biology teacher at Central High School. They live in the Inskip/Sterchi area of North Knoxville.

Tracy sings in the First Pres choir and helps with the children’s choir and hand chimes group. Mark stops to explain why he has two adult handbell choirs. A couple of women approached him about a starter group for adults. They recruited a few friends and meet with Mark for an hour each Wednesday.

“We have so much fun,” he says. “One of our members traveled to Dubai. She invited us all to her home to show her pictures.”

Knoxville is blessed with many churches with outstanding music programs, he says, but working on weekends he hasn’t had time to visit many of them.

First Presbyterian has a site on

Check the Easter 2024 service. It’s one hour and 40 minutes, but forward near the end for the Hallelujah Chorus from Handel’s Messiah. Awesome.

Also, on you will find MarkandTracyPace – a site with over two million views. You can hear Mark playing Rocky Top and Great Is Thy Faithfulness on the pipe organ and the church choir singing Amazing Grace.

Sandra Clark is editor/CEO of Knox TN Today Inc.


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