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October 25, 2009 12:00:00 AM
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A section of Fiji’s Indian Methodists gathered outside the capital Suva today to celebrate the life of Fiji's first Indian Methodist minister at a church built in his honour.

The Reverend Ramsey R Deoki Memorial Church, located on the King’s Road at Nasinu 4½ Miles, will serve members of the Dudley Circuit living in Nasinu Town, who for the last 20 years have had to worship in different churches in the Caubati, Nasole and Valelevu areas.

Three of Deoki’s children and their families traveled from overseas to participate in today’s naming, opening and dedication service.

Ordained in 1939, Deoki remained the only Indian minister for the next 20 years. Fiji's Methodist Church now has 15 Indian ministers.

Methodist Church Indian division spokesman Reverend James Bhagwan said Deoki was remembered for being a man of vision.

“He was an orator, a singer, educationist and a scholar,” Bhagwan said.

“Being the first Fiji-born Indian to apply for a position in the
church, Ramsey faced a   lot of difficulties. Questions were asked whether he ought to be accepted on the same status as his “European” counterpart.”

Bhagwan said Ramsey kept struggling to gain recognition.

“His struggles meant the setting up of some standards and guidelines for the Indian Division of the Church in future. He started preaching inside and outside the Methodist Church.”

Deoki represented Fiji at the May 1963 General Conference in Adelaide. On 1st January 1964, he was appointed the first Indian Divisional Superintendent of the Indian Division.

Indian Division Superintendent Reverend William Lucas said Deoki embraced and moved easily amongst all sections of Fiji's multi ethnic and religious society.

“He possessed an intimate knowledge of the Hindi language and of Indian culture yet had absorbed much from Western culture. Through this, he was able to communicate the gospel of Jesus Christ in a profound manner. He had lofty ideals and was truly ahead of his time. “

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