On the 2nd of April 2017 a memorial service for Miss Claudie Payton was held at Siachitema Mission in Kalomo District Zambia.
In attendance was the guest of honor Minister of National Guidance & Religious Affairs; Hon Godfridah Sumaili. Also attending was Provincial Minister; Hon Edify Hamukale, Permanent Secretary of Southern province, Mr Sibanze Simuchoba, Leadership of United Party for National Development (UPND), Royal Highness Chief Siachitema, Current & Former National Superintendents and NBA members of Pilgrim Wesleyan Church, the Payton family, invited guests and church members.
Hon Minister Godfridah Sumaili and Government & church delegates were led on a brief tour of Siachitema mission upon arrival. First point of visit was the high school. The school headmaster highlighted that the school is in urgent need of a science laboratory, teachers accommodation, water and transport. The delegates also visited the hospital. The church has donated equipment and mattresses but there is need for more mattresses and linen. The biggest challenge at the hospital is that the mortuary is not functional.
Honorable Minister Godfridah spoke as the guest honor at Miss Claudia Payton memorial service. The Minister said, “One thing we can learn is Miss Payton walked in love and love is the greatest command.”
She said the government regards Pilgrim Wesleyan Church as a key partner in the development of the nation. She will consult with her administration to find out if the Claudia Payton memorial house can be credited as a religious tourist site.
Bishop of Pilgrim Wesleyan Church, Dr Alfred Kalembo gave praise to Miss Claudia Payton and everyone who worked with her in the establishment of Siachitema Mission. He said Pilgrim Wesleyan church was founded and developed from these initial missionary efforts and today the church has over 350 local congregations in Zambia, 70 in Uganda, 10 in Kenya and 11 in Malawi. The church works in partnership with the government and international and global partners like the International Leadership Institute of Southern Africa ILISA. Through these valued partnership the church has reclaimed 10 basic schools and 2 high schools from the government and these have received desks, equipment and books from the container project by ILISA.
The church takes a holistic approach on the gospel and is not only active in education but in health, agriculture and tourism also. The Bishop expressed gratitude to the government and to the guest of honor for gracing the ocassion on short notice. He went further to communicate the vision of builting the ruins of Miss Claudie Payton’s house to a Memorial house.
The Permanet Secretary of Southern province, Mr Sibanze Simuchoba in his speech traced his education background to Jembo Mission. He expressed gratitude to the church’s efforts in working tirelesly for the betterment of the nation.
The MP in his speech related that he is a beneficiary of the church as he got his medical care at Chabbobboma clinic. He commended Pilgrim Wesleyan Church for the great service it offers to its community and nation. The work of Pilgrim Wesleyan Church compliments the work of the government. He however expressed great disatisfaction at other churches who exist only to collect tithes and offering from members but do nothing for the community.
His Royal Highness Chief Siachitema remembered Claudia Payton vividly as someone who sacrificed her life to love the people of Africa. The Chief spoke humourously of the days he was helping with the house chores and care of the orphans.
The Chief boasted about how he was the only one who was shown by Claudia where they were to bury her when she died. Her request was that she is mourned in the African traditional way.
History of Miss Payton
December 15, 1894 Miss Claudie Payton was born in West Virginia USA.
1894-1911 She became a Christian at 17 years
1926-1930 She graduated from God’s Bible School and worked there for 4years to raise money to come to Africa. Many good Missions Boards rejected her because the doctors said was physically unfit to serve in Africa.
1930 She left America to Africa. Together with 3 other missionaries on board they sailed to Cape Town South Africa. Then they took a train and arrived in Choma.
1931-1933 She spent her first years moving from village to village witness about Christ. She started Siachitema mission under the permission and sanction of Chief Siachitema.
1940-1956 Miss Payton started raising orpahns. She is a mother of 41 children, 18 were raised to aldulthood and 23 died. Students helped with taking care of the orphans. Senior Chief Siachitema helped with a lot of the work around the house.
1945-1947 Claudie Payton joined Pilgrim Holiness church and the church took over her school work and she continued with her orphanage work
1950-1955 She wrote her first book titled; ‘Twenty years in Africa’. She also started a Bible School in Siachitema
1960-1964 The Bible College moved to Jembo. She also visited her homeland in America for only 9 months and returned to Zambia.
1972-1974 Many challenges within and outside the church threatened to stop the work of the orphanage but Claudie remained firm in taking care of the 18 orphans. All the orphans celebrated her 80th birthday at Siachitema Mission.
1981-1983 Miss Claudie Payton wrote her second book 46 years in Africa. She got sick and was cared for by her youngest child David Payton and his wife. On 25th May 1983, she traveled to Lusaka and received her honorship from Dr D.K Kaunda’s hand at State House in Lusaka Zambia. She was honored with Order of Distinguished service second division for the great work she has done in Africa Zambia.
1984 In March, Miss Payton collapsed and fractured her right hip. No operation could help because of her old age. On the 27th of March 1984 at 08:30 hours she died and was buried 2days after at Siachitema Mission. She was mourned in the traditional African way.
Her funeral was attended by Hon Grey Zulu representing the President Dr Kaunda, American Embassy delegates, Government officials, Chief Siachitema, Headman and community members.