Death of former missionary to China Reverend Verla Sutton

Death of former missionary to China Reverend Verla Sutton

Jannuary 15, 1919 – November 1, 2010


It is with sadness that Global Ministries announces the passing of Verla Marjorie Elliot Sutton, former missionary to China.


Verla Marjorie Elliott Sutton, 91, of Indianapolis passed away Monday, November 1, 2010.  She was born to loving parents, Ulrey and Evelyn Elliott, on January 15, 1919, in Evans, Colorado.  After graduating from high school, Verla hitchhiked from Colorado to Philips University in Enid, Oklahoma, where she completed her undergraduate studies.  She spent a year working with Native American children with the Yakima Indian Christian Mission in Washington state. She had been a resident of Indianapolis for the past 23 years.  She taught for the Indianapolis Public Schools as an English teacher for eight years, and worked for the Indianapolis Welfare Department helping elderly clients. She attended Westview Christian Church and more recently Living Water Christian Church. 


Verla Sutton was ordained as a minister of the Christian Church (Disciplesof Christ) in 1947 and from that time on, ministering to others became her passion.   She thoroughly enjoyed missionary work and her love of helping others led her to do missionary work in China.  In preparation for her service in China, she studied agricultural missions at Cornell University, Ithaca, New York. In September 1946 she went to Yale University for eight months of intensive Chinese language study.


Following preparation for missionary service, Verla boarded a ship with 34 other missionaries bound for China. She was assigned to work in Hefei, China, a city of 78,000 people at that time.  Verla worked with Chinese Christians in helping to establish Sunday Schools, preaching points, schools, and churches. Although, her ministry was cut short due to the change of government in China, she was able to make a contribution to the lives of young Chinese Christians. She wrote the following about her work, “It is heartening to me to have students ask for Bible study.  All the Christian young people want to do memory work in the English Bible.  Some have already memorized the Lord’s prayer, the 23rd Psalm, the 12th chapter of Romans, and many single verses I’ve chosen for them.  One of these students is a blind boy from Wuhu who lost his eye sight during an air raid a year ago.  He memorizes verses or sentences and then goes to the typewriter and feels them out.  He has not speed yet, but can write sentences without an error.  It is an interesting experience to teach him, and he has taken a new lease on life since he’s begun to study typing.”


Upon her return from China, Mrs. Sutton married her husband, Reverend Jack Adam Sutton, Jr. in 1952 and together they raised their adopted sons, Harry Bruce and John Wayne Sutton.  Other passions in her life included her family, and when she wasn’t preaching she was gardening and was proud to be a Master Gardener.  Together with her husband, Verla enjoyed traveling, mostly to set up new churches in different locations, including the Amarillo Christian Church in Amarillo, Texas, which was the Suttons’ last pastorate.  Her beloved husband passed away in June of 1985 after 33 years of marriage. Verla was preceded in death by her husband, parents, and by all four of her sisters.  She leaves behind to cherish her memories, sons, Harry and John Sutton; five grandchildren, and 12 great-grandchildren.  A memorial service will be held Friday November 12, 2010, at 2 p.m. in Robin Run Village, Indianapolis.  Condolences may be sent to:  Becky and Bruce Sutton, 10975 N. 650 E, Brownsburg, IN   46112 or by email:  At the family’s request memorial contributions may be made to the Pastoral Emergency Fund of the Christian Church in Indiana and may be sent to the Regional office at 1100 W. 42nd Street, Indianapolis, IN 46208.