Thomas J. Payne was born on October 21, 1935 to James B. and Vivian L. Payne. He attended Oak Lawn Elementary and Turner High public schools in Waxahachie, Texas. He graduated in June 1964. Pastor Payne has been married for over 54 years. For forty-seven of those years he was married to the late Geraldine Payne, and out of that union two daughters were born. For the past seven and a half years, Pastor has been and is currently happily married to the outgoing, soft spoken and warm-hearted Sandra F. Payne.

Thomas Payne attended the Southern Bible Institute, in Dallas Texas, from 1973 - 1976 where, during that time, he served as Vice President of the Student body. In 1976 he graduated with honors. Thomas Payne attended Dallas Bible College from 1986 – 1987. After the institute relocated, he attended Dallas Baptist University from 1988 - 1989.

Deacon Thomas Payne accepted his calling on August 18, 1973. Pastor Payne served as pastor of the Samaria Baptist Church in Kerens Texas, from April 16, 1976, until- January 3, 1982. During his years in Kerens, he rebuilt the Samaria Baptist Church. With the help of the Lord and his friends, Pastor N. L. Robinson and the Late Rev. C.O. Smith, on December 17, 1981, the Pearly Gate Baptist Church was founded and organized under the leadership of Pastor Thomas Payne. The congregation consisted of five adults and seventeen children and the first offering of only $143.00.

With the help of the Lord, Dr. Robbie Moore and friends of the church, Pearly Gate Baptist Church has grown to over 3,000 members; with nine ministers, twenty-five deacons, and a full-time secretary. The Lord has blessed the offering from $143.00 to an asset of $23 million. The church has seven new buildings and an academy, Gateway Charter Academy, which educates from PreK-4 to the 12th grade, with over 800 students and their new state of the art high school.

In May 2009, Senior Pastor Thomas Payne received the honorary degree ‘Doctorate in Humanities’ from the Southern Bible Institute in Dallas Texas. He now serves as Treasurer on the Executive Board of the Southern Bible Institute and Revival Chairman of the Dallas Baptist Ministers Union.