Claude Thayer, first Church of God missionary to Kenya, Africa, passed away on May 10, 2017, in Cass City, Michigan. His wife, Frances, preceded him in death in 2011. Together, they established the Church of God in Oxford, Michigan.

Kenya Overseer David Bwire presents a plaque to the first Missionary Overseer of Kenya, Claude Thayer in July 2016.

As residents of the United States, Claude and Frances sensed a clear and definite calling to Kenya. During the Thayers’ schooling at Vennard College in University Park, Iowa (which has since closed), they became acquainted with a couple from Nairobi, Kenya, Geoffrey and Rachel Chepkwony. The Chepkwonys stayed with the Thayers while Geoffrey completed his education. The Africans were well-acquainted with the vice president of Kenya. When they returned to Kenya, they influenced the vice president to invite the Thayers to Kenya.

The Thayers arrived in 1977. Two days after they were in-country, the first Church of God was organized in Nairobi by Superintendent A.W. Brummett with 11 members. A second church was established in Karatina with 36 charter members. The third church was located in Matharini and started with 12 members.

Claude served as overseer of Kenya from 1977 to 1978.