July 2023 – Drew Theological School is mourning the loss of Bishop Sudarshana Devadhar T’84,’87, who passed away on July 18, 2023. He was 72 years old.
Devadhar served as bishop of the Greater New Jersey Conference of the United Method Church from 2004-2012 and the New England Conference from 2012-2022. He retired on January 1, 2023 after serving 20 years as a bishop.
He served on Drew’s Board of Trustees from 2004-2012.
“A deeply spiritual, gentle, and compassionate soul who touched the hearts and lives of many,” said Drew University Trustee Bishop John Schol of Devadhar in a statement. “He will be deeply missed.”
Devadhar, whose surname means “follower of God,” earned his Master of Philosophy and PhD from Drew, and a MTh from Perkins School of Theology of Southern Methodist University. He also held a BD from United Theological College, and an undergraduate degree from Vijaya College, University of Mysore, Mulki, India.
“My prayer and my hope is that Drew continues to produce faithful leaders who are not afraid to speak the truth in love to principalities and powers, and empower the people in their care,” said Devadhar as he presented the Statement from the Bishops at the recent Installation of Dean Edwin David Aponte.
He was due to embark on a new journey with Drew this fall, serving as the Bell Bishop-in-Residence.
“Like so many others, I was shocked and saddened at the news of Bishop Devadhar’s passing,” said Aponte. “Bishop Suda, as he was affectionately known, was widely respected and loved for his pastoral sensitivity, his effective Episcopal leadership, and his caring mentorship that he bestowed on so many.”
“Bishop Suda’s death is keenly felt in particular since he had agreed to be Drew’s next Bishop-in-Residence and personally I was looking forward to benefit from his wisdom and experience,” continued Aponte. “We will honor the late Bishop Sudarshana Devadhar if we in the Drew community do all that we can to bring his prayer and hope into reality.”
In comments offered at Devadhar’s retirement celebration, Associate Dean Tanya Linn Bennett said, “Bishop Suda’s commitment to justice for all God’s people—a justice that recognizes gifts and graces for ministry and leadership in whatever person embodies them, is demonstrated during his leadership. He has been my spiritual guide, my mentor, my confidante. He is an Episcopal leader who nurtures trust, inspires dedication, invites creativity, mentors, advises, asks deep questions, and listens hard.”
Devadhar’s impact was far-reaching with a “love everybody” mantra.
“I’ve been blessed by Bishop Suda’s encouragement throughout my ministry,” said PhD candidate Beth Quick, who first met Devadhar as a college-aged lay person in the then North Central New York Annual Conference. “I have special memories of Bishop Suda—times when he would call me to talk about a blog post I had made that he wanted to weigh in on, a time when he ask me to give him advice on how he was doing as a bishop, the ways he celebrated my book of sung communion liturgies.”
“But what is special about Bishop Suda is that so many people have special moments like this with him, because he was so gifted at really seeing people, at really caring about each individual person, about seeing the gifts and strengths of each one of us, showing us love, respect, and value. Not many people can do that so well, with so many. Bishop Suda was a treasure.”
Devadhar is survived by his wife, Prema, and their daughter, Trina, son-in-law Gage, and his grandchildren.