BY ALLEN A. BUCHANAN, Staff Writer
ST. PETERSBURG — The Bethel Community Baptist Church family and members of the community gathered together for home going services last Saturday on the beautiful morning of June 17 to bid farewell to Deacon Pauline J. Carley-Payton, a dedicated Christian warrior and icon for excellence in whatever she was involved in.
“This is a person who really liked herself,” said Mary Walker. “Miss P, that was my nickname for her, thank you for the journey,” said Walker after she had the adults who were once under Payton’s tutelage in Sunday School to stand. Walker also thanked Deacon Payton’s family for sharing her with the Bethel family.
“She’s going to be tremendously missed and personally missed by me,” remarked Deacon James Myles who worked side-by-side with Deacon Payton for over 20 years at Bethel’s community school as well as Sunday School.
Deacon Payton was a member of the Red Hatter Society along with Mary Walker. Queen Red Hatter Marilyn came from the west coast to celebrate the life of Deacon Payton and compared her to the daring water beetle that climbed out of the water to the top of a stem to embrace a new life in a new body.
David McEachern, a longtime friend of Deacon Payton, recalled their love of growing and sharing pepper plants. He shared a comic tale about their green plumb adventures.
“Pauline and I and John Wooten were frequent visitors in trying to grow peppers. We had a… I guess you could call it green thumb and we could grow pretty good peppers,” he said.
After McEachern’s warm reminder of how well-rounded Deacon Payton was, her granddaughter, Karla Payton, sang the spiritually charged “His Eye Is On The Sparrow.”
Katherine Jones followed with resolutions and acknowledgements, and Loretta Monroe Calvin sang the solo “My Soul Has Been Anchored” before Rev. Dr. Sykes delivered a powerful home going message about being ready and not letting the inevitable take you by surprise.
Pastor Sykes drove home the message that Deacon Payton was ready when he shared what he felt could have been her last three words which she wrote down because she was too weak to speak: “Love, life, me.”