Bishop Sudarshana Devadhar dies at 72
The United Methodist Church
Press Release – For immediate release
Bishop Sudarshana Devadhar, a retired bishop of The United Methodist Church (UMC), died yesterday, July 18, 2023. Council of Bishops (COB) President Bishop Thomas J. Thomas announced the news today to the COB Executive Committee which was meeting outside Chicago this week.
Bishop Devadhar was elected to the episcopacy in 2004 by the Northeastern Jurisdictional (NEJ) Conference of The United Methodist Church. He retired on January 1, 2023.
NEJ College of Bishops President Bishop LaTrelle Miller Easterling, who leads the Baltimore-Washington Conference, described Bishop Devadhar as a leader who was celebrated throughout the denomination as a man of deep prayer.
“He was a servant leader who possessed a gentle heart, a deep and abiding faith and rigorous intellect. He led ecumenically, understanding that we all benefit from God’s divine design of unity,” said Bishop Easterling, who served on Bishop Devadhar’s cabinet before she was elected to the episcopacy.
Bishop Bickerton of New York, the COB Bishops President, said Bishop Devadhar’s death has robbed the UMC of a great leader of Christian unity.
“Suda Devadhar was a person who brought to life the words integrity and covenant. His deep commitment to Jesus Christ led him to live his life with high expectations and deep spirituality. I am a better person and I believe we are a stronger church because of the life of Bishop Suda Devadhar,” said Bishop Bickerton.
“Bishop Devadhar represented an ecumenical and inter-religious heart, prioritizing ecumenism and inter-religious spirit in his ministry. He also had an ecumenical and inter-religious mind; theologically grounding his faith with unity at the center. He will be greatly missed as a champion of ecumenical and inter-religious ministry and commitment,” said Bishop Sally Dyck, the COB Ecumenical Officer.
Bishop Devadhar began his assignment as the leader of the New Jersey Episcopal Area (Greater New Jersey Annual Conference) on September 1, 2004. After serving in the New Jersey Area for 8 years, he was assigned to the Boston Area (New England Annual Conference) in July 2012.
He was born April 6, 1951, into a family of clergypersons and has been a follower of God all of his life. The name "Devadhar" means "follower of God." Suda, as he was known, began his pastorate as a deacon at the Church of South India, Mercara Coorg, India. He holds a B.Com. degree from Vijaya College, University of Mysore, Mulki, India; a B.D., degree from United Theological College, Bangalore, India; a M.Th. degree from Perkins School of Theology, Southern Methodist University; and an M.Phil. and a Ph.D. from Drew University.
Bishop Devadhar’s guiding principle was, “Love everybody.” One of the ways he embodied that ethos was leading sacred pilgrimages abroad. He firmly believed that holy pilgrimages broadened understandings, developed relationships and deepened discipleship. He led many to The Holy Land, and was instrumental in leading youth and young adults to Taize France and on The Mission of Peace.
Before he was elected as a bishop in 2004, he served for eight years as the district superintendent for the Ontario District of the then North Central New York Annual Conference.
Bishop Devadhar is survived by his wife, Prema, and their daughter, Trina, son-in-law Gage and his grandchildren. Arrangements will be shared when finalized.
Rev. Dr. Maidstone Mulenga
Director of Communications - Council of Bishops
(202) 748-5172 (Office)