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Formerly known as “Dutch Guyana”, Suriname lies immediately southeast of Guyana – which was “British Guyana”, and west of the small country of French Guyana.

This country maintains close ties with the Netherlands, and Dutch is still widely spoken, as well as many other languages.  Guyana, Suriname and French Guyana are 3 of the 4 non-Hispanic language countries in South America (the 4th being Brazil whose major language is Portuguese).  Because of their location on the northeast coast of South America, they are grouped with our companion churches in Haiti and Cuba and considered to be “Caribbean”.

The President of the Evangelisch Lutherse Kerk in Suriname (ELKS) is Yolanda Yehe, having been elected in 2022. There are four congregations in and around Paramaribo.  Currently one of ELKS’s pastors, Rev. Danielle Dokman, is studying in the US for her PhD; another emerging leader is Rafael Van Ommeren who is graduating from UTCWI in Jamaica.  The most recent trip to Suriname was in October of 2019, though another is planned for late 2023. There is a desire on the part of ELKS board members to come to the USA for an immersion trip in the future.

Since 2020, the Florida-Bahamas Synod has partnered with ELKS and the ELCA Area for Service and Justice in the arena of gender justice.  Global Mission has provided funds to help sponsor two rooms in a shelter named STICRIS, a private-public partnership in Suriname providing housing and support services to abused women and their families (pictures below).  We also supported and attended a virtual symposium on the topic in October 2021, hosted by ELKS.  Finally, members of the Suriname Team worked with ELKS and other companions to create a devotion for the Sixteen Days of Advocacy for Gender Justice in December 2021.  It can be found at the following YouTube link:

Marcee Wilkes ( is the chair of the Guyana-Suriname Team.  Please contact her or Rev. Katie Carroll ( to learn more and get involved.

SurinameLWFOn September 5, 2016 Pastor Reza Karg wrote:

“It was an honor for the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Suriname, to host the first joint pre-assembly of the Lutheran World Federation for two regions – Latin America/Caribbean and North America (LAC / NA), from the 29th of August to the 2nd of September 20

“This was the first time that there was a simultaneous assembly of two regions at once. At times there were joint sessions and at times there were separate sessions. There was actually more going on, because also the youth and the women had their own separate meeting next to the joint meetings. Talking about being efficient!SurinameLWFSusanJohnson

“In the picture you see Bishop Susan Johnson who was about to receive presents that Bishop Eaton had brought with her. It turned out to be a joys and emotional moment for Bishop Susan. She received gift of the indigenous people she is very involved with and presents from her home church. It was most wonderful to meet and greet these two great woman, who put their hearts into the work they do by the grace of God.

“The pre-assembly itself was to get prepared for the huge assemble in Windhoek Namibia in 2017. We are thankful to God that all went well and that our regions are well on their way to Namibia.”