Pine Ridge (Payabya) Mission

In the 1920s Brother and Sister E. L. Marley (parents of E L. Marley, formerly Northern Union Conference president) began work for the Sioux Indians near Kyle and Porcupine, SD, when they were employed as government schoolteachers. In 1940, the Marleys helped establish a new village, a government school and a Seventh-day Adventist church at Red Shirt Table near the Cheyenne River. A church building was erected on a site leased to the conference by the government. After Marleys moved away in 1941, the Rapid City district pastor cared for the church.

In 1965, Elder and Mrs. Marvin Walters came to Red Shirt Table from working among the Indians of the American Southwest. The conference purchased a ten-acre plot eight miles east of the new Indian Hospital at Pine ridge, SD on Highway 18. Buildings were moved and remodeled and school began in September of 1968 with Larry Gatewood as teacher of ten pupils. The enrollment continued to climb until the school year of 1978-79 showed 42 students enrolled in eight grades.

Wilbur and Janice Mauk served at the mission from 1985 to 1995 continuing the school program for ten years but were forced to retire due to medical issues. Afterward the mission was rented to other Christian non-profits and suffered significant deterioration.

Bill and Marilyn Glassford were hired in 2013 to help restore the mission and a school was again started in 2015. However, vandalism of the mission director’s personal property, the school and school property and the teacher’s residence and personal property caused the school to close after the start of the second year.

Several pastors served during this time. Retired Pastor David and Betty Brown served at the mission followed by Pastor Joseph and Jimmie Story. Pastor Marion and Elva Miller served for a couple of years and then Pastor Joseph and Jimmie Story returned. In October of 2017 the decision was made to sell Payabya Mission at #3 Community on the Pine Ridge Reservation to the Oglala Sioux Tribe. The Tribe is excited to have the residents and buildings to use for tribal meetings. Arrangements were made for those who would like to attend church to continue to use the church on Sabbath.