Rev. Danielle Dokman will preach at opening worship for LWF’s Thirteenth Assembly in Krakow
(LWI) - Rev. Danielle Dokman from the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Suriname has been invited to preach the opening sermon at the Lutheran World Federation (LWF) Thirteenth Assembly in Poland in September.
A former LWF Council member for the Latin American and Caribbean region from 2010 to 2017, the 34-year-old Dokman is currently studying for a doctorate at Luther Seminary in St Paul, Minnesota, specializing in biblical prophecy in the Old Testament.
Reflecting on the task of preaching during the inaugural worship service in Krakow on 13 September, Dokman said she feels both “excited and humbled” but also “nervous and under pressure to bring something fresh” to inspire delegates from across the global communion of churches.
Local, regional and global perspectives
“I am very excited to be involved again with my LWF family,” Dokman said, speaking from Colombia where she participated in the regional Pre-Assembly. “My time on the Council was formative and enriching, helping me to build up many skills and see what it really means to do God’s work on a global level, as well as regionally and locally in my own country,” she added.
“Preaching in such a global context is always challenging,” she noted, “particularly in this time of war and displacement, with so many political and economic crises. I feel the weight of trying to find, not just lovely words, but a way of really lifting up our Scriptures and encouraging people to keep working in their contexts, knowing that God is with us. That’s a lot of pressure, but it is also the perfect place for a preacher to be,” she laughed.
Dokman, who received the invitation several months ago, says she “started praying and then discussing with LWF staff” about the readings, as well as the Assembly theme of ‘One Body, One Spirit, One Hope’. As a member of the Assembly’s thematic content reference group, she has also been closely involved in drawing up the Study Guide for delegates and anyone keen to find out more about the Krakow event.
Taking part in the Pre-Assembly for the Latin American, Caribbean and North American regions in Bogotá was also an important part of Dokman’s preparation, helping her to “look at the Biblical texts in a different light and widen my perspective on regional issues and concerns.”
Bogotá, she continued, is also the place where she was asked to give “a small sermon during the 2012 Council meeting,” a moment which shaped her decision to study for ordination. “It is surreal for me returning to this same spot where I suddenly understood God’s calling and started my journey to become a pastor.”
Embodying unity means to be open, to listen to others, no matter how different they are.
Rev. Danielle Dokman, Evangelical Lutheran Church in Suriname
Looking ahead to the Assembly, Dokman said: “It’s important that we prepare to come in a frame of mind where we can embody what unity means. It is easy to say, or to sing, but how do we really embody it? Not to be uniform, to be diverse, but to embody what it means to be open, to listen to others, no matter how different they are and to embrace that difference. To see our limitations, rather than seeing others as wrong.”
“Embodying that oneness,” she concluded, “is vital in a world that wants to tear us apart and keep us separated. I have always experienced the LWF as a place where we can resist those dominant forces in our world, a voice that can cry out and preach an alternative vision of unity and reconciliation. Let us hope we can embody that at the Krakow Assembly!”
The Thirteenth Assembly of the Lutheran World Federation takes place 13-19 September 2023 in Krakow, Poland. The theme of the Assembly will be "One Body, One Spirit, One Hope." It will be hosted by the Evangelical Church of the Augsburg Confession in Poland.