DENVILLE, NJ – Calvary Baptist Church of Morristown, New Jersey (10 Martin Luther King Ave.), will open its doors on Thurs., Aug. 8, 7-9 p.m., to provide free counseling to all who are grief-stricken by the sudden and tragic murder of Jahahd Payne, 23, of Randolph, New Jersey. An innocent bystander in the wrong place at the wrong time, Payne died of gun violence on Monday, Aug. 5, in Newark, New Jersey.

“This is a shock to our community, and we need a time to heal,” stated Rev. Samaria Tillman, the facilitator of Calvary’s grief counseling event. “We welcome everyone, not just Calvary members. All are welcome to come together for comfort and strength, to reflect on and process and discuss this tragic event.”

Payne was a special force in the Morris County community. Whether at Calvary Baptist Church, his home church; Randolph High School, his alma mater; or Celebrate the Children in Denville, his employer – Payne let his light shine.

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“Gone much too soon.”

“He’s praise dancing for God, now.”

“He was always thinking of others.”

“He had a sensitive, compassionate spirit.”

“We all know he was anointed.”

“He loved children and had a special connection to those with special needs.”

“He brought joy everywhere he went.”

“He was the perfect big brother.”

“He always made me smile.”

“We all loved him, but God loved him more.”

“He was a person of great faith.”

“Everyone liked Jahahd. He had no enemies.”

“Jahahd made going to church look so cool.”

These are just a few of the remarks from some of the people Payne touched in his short time on Earth.

A gifted performer, Payne knew how to dance his way into people’s hearts. He performed regularly at church from the time he was a little boy through adulthood. The envy of his classmates, he never shied away from busting a move in front of his peers at Randolph High School’s annual dance showcases or pep rallies. In 2012, he took first place in NJ’s Best Youth Expo for his self-choreographed, hip-hop dance routine.

An active member at Calvary his entire life, Payne served in the youth, praise dance and performance arts ministries, and sang in the choir. His memorable mime performances always moved congregants to tears.

Multitalented, Payne’s gifts also extended to visual art. He once shared with the editor of TAPinto Denville his competing desire to become a dance instructor or graphic designer. He attended the County College of Morris to explore both options.

Payne loved children and touched the lives of many as a staff member of YES Camp in Morristown, Pump It Up in Randolph and Celebrate the Children in Denville. He embodied a fun-loving, carefree, “Peter Pan” spirit that kept him eternally young at heart and relatable to younger generations.

As gratitude for Payne’s impact on its community, and as a sign of love, Celebrate the Children has established a gofundme page at, to assist his family, which includes his soon-to-be-born first child, a daughter due in October.

Having watched Jahahd mature from a little boy to a man, loving him more and more every step of the way, and feeling an indelibly profound sense of loss, the editor of TAPinto Denville will be attending Calvary’s night of healing and welcomes photos and expressions of love, which will be posted on a tribute page in his honor. is a member of the New Jersey Press Association and is a hyperlocal news site that serves residents, organizations and business owners of Denville, New Jersey.

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