Bishop Sudarshana Devadhar dies at 72

Bishop Sudarshana headshot
Bishop Sudarshana Devadhar (Photo credit: United Methodist Council of Bishops)

Bishop Sudarshana Devadhar’s last name means “follower of God.” Through his faithful discipleship and humble leadership, fellow United Methodists say the aptly named bishop helped them to more closely follow God, too.

His sudden passing on July 18 at the age of 72 has led to an outpouring of grief from people across the United Methodist connection. He is survived by his wife, Prema, and their daughter, Trina, son-in-law Gage and his grandchildren.

The denomination’s first Indian American bishop, whom friends called Suda, had just retired on Jan. 1 after nearly 20 years as an active bishop — first in the Greater New Jersey Conference in 2004-2012 and then in the New England Conference until this year. He had moved to Cincinnati, Ohio, to be near his grandchildren.

Bishop Devadhar served on the General Board of Discipleship (now operating as Discipleship Ministries) Board of Directors during the 2009-2012 quadrennium. Rev. Jeff Campbell, General Secretary of Discipleship Ministries, offered the following statement:

The world lost a beautiful human being and the church lost a kind and thoughtful leader. Bishop Suda, as most called him, ordained me in the Greater New Jersey Annual Conference, and was a strong supporter of the general boards and agencies -- a deeply connectional leader. When I moved to Discipleship Ministries ten years ago, he was one of the first to call and congratulate me, and it was not uncommon to receive a call from him each year asking how I was doing and how he could be in prayer for Discipleship Ministries. What I’ll remember most, is that every time he called, he inquired about each of my family members by name. He cared deeply for each and every person he encountered. I give thanks to God for the life of this wonderful man, and that we for a time could walk with him and learn from him.