In memoriam: Missionary emeritus Harry Von Worten, 88

Harry Von Worten, 1932-2020

Harry Von Worten, an International Mission Board missionary emeritus who shared the gospel among the Southeast Asian Affinity Peoples in the Philippines, Indonesia and across South and Southeast Asia, died Oct. 17, 2020. He was 88.

Worten was born Oct. 4, 1932, in Pawhuska, Oklahoma, to the late Lena Grace Cook and Jesse James Worten.

Worten was an all-state football player for the Pawhuska Huskies and earned a football scholarship to The University of Oklahoma. While in college he enrolled in ROTC, was active in the Baptist Student Union, and was a member of the Beta Theta Pi fraternity. After receiving the Bachelor of Arts from the university, he received his commission and served with the U.S. Army in Germany. After military service he received the Master of Divinity and Master of Religious Education from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Fort Worth, Texas.

When seeking missionary appointment, Worten wrote that while in seminary the Lord began to move his heart during mission days. “At first it was a recognition of the needs of the world; then it became a burning desire to see these people won to Christ. I said, ‘Lord, please send someone to tell them;’ then it became, ‘Lord, I wish that I could go.’”

A summer in the Bahamas with a team from Southwestern not only assured him of God’s leading to the missions field but led to a relationship with fellow team member Marjorie “Marge” Ann Jones. They were married on Nov. 26, 1959, in Phoenix, Arizona.

He served as a pastor in West Texas for five years before the International Mission Board appointed them as missionaries to Indonesia in 1964. After a brief assignment in the Philippines, they lived in Indonesia for 24 years and then served an additional 10 years as itinerate missionaries in South and Southeast Asia.

After retirement, Von and Marge moved back to Oklahoma, where he was active in First Baptist Church, Norman. He taught Sunday School, was involved with Oklahoma Baptist Disaster Relief and worked with the Union Builders. Worten lived in Norman for 23 years.

Worten was preceded in death by a daughter; Lauri Lyn Worten. He is survived by his wife of 60 years, Marge; son Vance Worten (Juni), daughter Stephanie Croft (Anthony), and seven grandchildren.

Memorial donations may be made to the Lottie Moon Offering, International Mission Board, 3806 Monument Avenue, Richmond, VA 23230, or online at You may also give a designated gift to the offering through a Southern Baptist Church near you.

Read an obituary here.