A culture, not a cult

A brief cheat-sheet to the Adventist world

Elena Cornwell

Haystacks, Special K loaf, veggie meat, vespers, Sabbath, Rook, academy, summer camp—these words and phrases are found precious in the sight of Seventh-day Adventists. If you’ve arrived at Union sans experience with this culture, you may feel out of place or confused with the new lingo and lifestyle. But fear not, this short guide will help you catch on quickly. Soon you’ll be flipping Grillers (veggie patties) like a professional. After all, the Adventist culture, as the center of this college, is impossible to ignore.

Seventh-day Adventism is an established religion based on the Bible. Despite what the internet may say, it is not a cult. The fact that you are here at Union shows you’ve done at least a little bit of research.

The worldwide Adventist community is so intertwined that it can be used as a free postal service. Courtney Gutknecht, enrollment coordinator for Union, says of the Adventist community, “It’s such a big but small world. You only have to go back two or three connections to find a common friend or relative.”

She’s right. In fact, I’ve sent packages with acquaintances to friends all over the world several times. It sure saves a lot on postage.

What else draws us together besides our international connections? “Potlucks!” Gutknecht refers to the traditional after-church meal on Saturdays famed for the diversity of vegetarian food offered. Kids always remember to bring their change of clothes because mom and dad will talk for hours at those plastic tables-- over recipes, their kids, and the sermon heard earlier that morning.

A common staple at potlucks is the “haystack” (a.k.a. taco salad). This personalizable meal, served each Saturday evening at Union Market for dinner, is a classic you will taste soon if you haven’t already. It is easy to prepare, delicious, and known in the Adventist circle as the go-to meal in a pinch.

Vespers is a Friday night worship service (also called Family Worship). As the sun sets on Friday evening to signal the beginning of the Sabbath, we gather to worship God. This period of time called the “Sabbath,” lasts until sundown on Saturday. This full day is observed as described in the Bible (Exodus 20); it’s a day of rest.

Senior business administration, finance and management major Gary Obreque says that his favorite thing about being Adventist is “resting on the Sabbath.” It’s mine too, and as a student here, I bet you’ll come to appreciate it as much as we do.

As you settle into life at Union, don’t be daunted by things you’d never heard of before. Take time to learn about not only the Adventist religion, but also other religions represented on campus. College is a time for growth so go ask about the stories and cultures of others. Their culture is reflected there and their culture makes them who they are. Let them share it with you.

Culture in the online Merriam-Webster Dictionary is defined as “the beliefs, customs, arts, etc., of a particular society, group, place, or time.” This is how I want to define this column for the year, and this aspect of the culture of Union seemed a good place to start.

Elena is a senior pursuing a personalized major.