New England Conference Bishop Sudarshana Devadhar led a 90-minute talk and question and answer session with members of the Many Waters District on May 5. District Superintendent Karen Munson was also part of the discussions.
After a 30-minute welcoming and sharing of light refreshments, the hour-long Q&A followed many subjects, but most time was spent on the uncertain details of the split in the United Methodist Church over the acceptance, ordination, and marriage of LGBTQ members.
The bishop provided information about the issue, but time after time his message was “There is a place for everyone at the table . . . We need to learn from one another . . . We are extending our table to everyone”.
Retired Bishop Cliff Ives and his wife Jane also were in attendance and Bishop Devadhar said how “grateful” he was for Bishop Ives being one of his mentors.
There also were questions of who might replace Bishop Devadhar — he is expected to retire this summer — and the hope that leadership in the conference would remain strong.
Rev. Karen Munson also was praised for her work the past two years as district superintendent. She will be stepping down in June and will be replaced by the Rev. Arlene Tully.
The bishop’s evening at CEUMC ended with a large prayer circle with Bishop Devadhar standing in the center. Each person in the circle, from many churches in the district, was asked to say one or two words of thanks for what the bishop has done over the past decade in the New England Conference. Rev. Munson explained the Prayer Circle was a district tradition.