Bishop Sudarshana Devadhar visited the Granite District on Oct. 7, 2021. Folks gathered at the
First United Methodist Church in Gilford, NH, and via Zoom.
Granite District Superintendent Taesung Kang began the evening by quoting some thoughts on gratitude from David Steindl-Rast
, a Benedictine monk.
“’If you’re grateful, you’re not fearful. If you’re not fearful, you’re not violent. The grateful act out of a sense of enough, not scarcity, so they are willing to share.’ Being grateful does no less than change the power balance of life.”
As October is Pastor Appreciation Month, Rev. Kang asked folks to share why they are grateful for Bishop Devadhar’s leadership. These are some of those responses:
I am grateful for the bishop’s …
ability to listen.
taking time to call and pray with pastors in their times of need.
grace and sense of humor.
being a leader of prayerful integrity and gracious love.
deep faith and trust in the Lord.
prayerful pastoral presence.
Then it was time for the bishop to share some thoughts and take questions.
“Honestly, I did not come here tonight to hear your praises, but thank you for your thoughtfulness, your prayers, and your affirmations,” Bishop Devadhar said. “Thank you, all of you have shared this … kindly pray for me and my family, and for our churches and for our global community.”
The opening worship was a brief Taizé-inspired service. While those assembled could not sing together, Rev. Bob Schneider and retired Local Pastor Murray Nickerson led the worship and offered songs from the back of the sanctuary.
Rev. Schneider serves Moultonborough UMC and as coordinating pastor at South Tamworth and Tuftonboro UMCs. Rev. Vickie Wood Parrish, who serves Ashland UMC, played piano.
The bishop expressed his appreciation saying, “Taizé music and Taizé prayer is always an oasis in my journey.”
Adapting to the COVID-19 pandemic was a topic of discussion, and the bishop said both clergy and laity have done extremely well.
He thanked “pastors and clergy alike for being the church of Jesus Christ during the COVID-19 pandemic … COVID came upon us very fast, and all of you, across the Conference, have adapted and supported us and kept us going.”
Focusing in on the laity, Bishop Devadhar said, “I’m grateful to each and every one of you … you have been taking full participation in the life and ministry of the churches, and our churches have been growing – spiritually, numerically, and financially. You are amazing.”
“I also want to thank our pastors, publicly; our pastors have done their level best to adapt to the new situation and lead their congregations faithfully.” The bishop cited particularly those clergy who began new appointments during the pandemic or as the bishop said, have “taken the risk of going to new pulpits during COVID.”
Technology is playing a larger role in worship during these days, and the bishop responded to a question about how to cope with clergy and church leaders who are “not embracing technology even when they have a platform in place?”
The bishop found his answer in the founders of Methodism, saying, “Charles Wesley was a visionary when he wrote that hymn [A Charge to Keep I Have
]; he said to ‘serve the present age …’ we’ve gone from the agricultural age to the industrial age, and now we have passed the information age and we are in the Google age.”
“… Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever,” Bishop Devadhar said. “The Christ does not change, but we need to offer the message of Jesus Christ in a new [way] every day. If you are in the leadership of the church today, God demands all of us to be the messengers of God for such as day like this.”
The bishop said that United Methodist ordinands are asked the historical questions, and one of them is “Do you visit from house to house?”
“The Wesleys, today, would ask, ‘Do you text your youth?’” Bishop Devadhar said.
If we keep youth from hearing God’s message because we are unwilling to embrace new delivery methods, he said, “we need to step to the side and let someone else do this, because it is not our church, it’s the church of Jesus Christ.”
Quoting an idea from the Amish, Bishop Devadhar, said “We cannot ask for God’s kingdom to come until we let our kingdoms go.”
Technology can be misused, Bishop Devadhar said, and “the church needs to be the voice in addressing this,” but, he said:
“Jesus said, the word of God will go to every place – friends, even places where the gospel is forbidden, the gospel goes there through Facebook, WhatsApp — social media is the greatest tool we have to bring the gospel of Jesus Christ.”