New General Conference guidelines being drafted to eliminate nasty potluck dishes


SILVER SPRING, Md. — There has been a growing realization on the part of many church officials at the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists that the quality of potlucks in many Adventist Churches worldwide is slipping.  High-level meetings aimed at finding a remedy to this gastronomical backsliding have been in process for months.  According to a leak from a closet carnivore on one of the committees, these are the main takeaways so far:

Straight-up-nasty dishes will be banned — Pastors will be required to appoint a Quality Control officer for church potlucks effective immediately.  Quality Control officers will keep written records of repeat offender members who bring nasty dishes to potlucks.  If these offenders leave the potluck with more than half their dish uneaten, they will be asked not to bring anything for a while or, if they agree to keep things simple, they can bring haystack ingredients which are almost impossible to mess up.

More Special K Loaf — Church administrators are reportedly “straight up pissed” about having to make the long trip out to local churches and preaching their hearts out only to find that complacent members have neglected to make enough Special K Loaf.  For this reason, all potlucks are now required to feature a “Special-K-Loaf-and-appropriate-variations” section that must comprise at least 1/4 of the potluck spread.

Food poisoning from Adventist Potlucks — “I crapped my pants two weeks in a row!” complained one over-traveled church exec during testimony time in one of the high-level GC potluck meetings.  In response, a comprehensive alpha-listed directory of churches with unsanitary potluck prep practices is being developed for an upcoming announcement on the Hope Chanel.  Name and shame.

Extreme boredom — As much as the General Conference is serious about its health message, it seems a few local churches have been taking it too far.  Stiffly-worded warnings have been issued to the pastors of said churches by their local conference presidents after complaints of various veggie meats that taste worse than IKEA food.

Crap presentation — An internal poll of the roughly 50 General Conference potluck committee members returned the following results: 75% felt that far too many dishes at local church potlucks resembled dog food and 50% reported having to fight a gag reflex at the sight of some bean soups.  For now, though, officials are deciding to let this infraction slide given the fact that aesthetics have never been an Adventist strength (Google “Adventist dress code” for evidence).

Dropping the serving spoon in the dish — There were also some concerns regarding behavior of members at potlucks.  By far, the most infuriating behavior to visiting church dignitaries was the tendency of some careless members to drop the serving spoon in the dish.  Three Division presidents in the Potluck Committee were especially grossed out at frequently having to fish around in soupy vegetable curries for serving spoons.  Churches will now be instructed to include appropriate guidance on potluck self-serving etiquette via bold-fonted bulletin inserts.

Hovering — Finally, a word to greedy church members that are trying to game the potluck system by “hovering” (any practice that involves hanging around the serving table for longer than strictly necessary).  This is “way uncool,” said a youth pastor representative on the committee.  “I hate how some people think it’s OK to just hang out at the potluck table and finish all the good stuff before the rest of us can make it back up for seconds.”  Suggested discipline for hoverers is immediate assignment to toiling over non-work in the dish room after Sabbath potluck.

More updates will likely be leaked as GC potluck meetings continue, so stay tuned…


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  1. Jeremy Brooks

    I laughed (inside, albeit) a lot when I read the above.
    My gastrointestinal tract is still burning from the ‘ethnic’ curry I recently ate – cries of ‘it burns so bad’ still resonate off the bathroom walls. QA is a must. There should be a General Conference tasting team to generate a list of does and don’t, an a level of quantisation over how much spice can be put into dishes. While second and third helpings of pudding are as helpful to the body as a glass of wine, the health message should be held high as we all dip into our sugar-filled surprise dishes. ‘But I fought it was pecan pie’ is not going to any longer be an excuse for taking triple toffee cheesecake – if it’s on your plate, you’re going to have to eat it. Then you can leave and pay the consequences on your own time. Lock the bathrooms at church, and potlucks may be shorter than ever!

  2. Damien Sim

    I am sadden by this article. I know it takes a lot of effort to prepare a dish for potluck, and people may not like your contribution to the potluck, but to have some church official come right out and tell you that your dish sucks would really turn me away from attending church potluck… even church to an extent. I know the potluck in the US may be different from other places in the world, but most people are forgetting the main point of potlucks… getting together and just hanging out.

    Sure you may not be able to handle the curry that was slowly melting its metal dish, or that super saturated sugary dessert dish that puts you on an instant sugar rush. But who put that on your dish? If you don’t like it or cannot handle it, LEAVE IT ALONE! Quite whining about it and avoid the dish the next time you attend potluck.

    Please don’t get me started on vegetarians/vegans… I am a practicing facultative vegetarian… this means that I’m ok with vegetarian food, vegetables, synthetic meat, and real meat. Seriously, vegetarians who complain that the vegetarian meat is bland are lying to themselves, as they want to eat a meat substitute that has the texture and taste of real meat. STOP LYING TO YOUR TASTEBUDS!

    If people have issues with potlucks, there are 3 answers to the problem:

    1. Don’t attend potlucks. If you are going to complain, it’s better if you not attend
    2. BYOM. Bring Your Own Meal. For those that have to attend potluck, if you really don’t like the food, bring your own food. You will get queer looks, but then you have food that you like and will not have a reason for complaining
    3. There is not other way to put this… MAN UP. Stop complaining and live a little. If you think that curry you had in church potluck was hot, then you need to remember that the person that cooked it probably toned it down so that everyone else could eat it. Just remember, back in its home country, that curry would be way spicier than what burn your GI tract on its way out.

    The fact that people complain about food is a given worldwide. People will complain about anything (even this post, because it is my opinion, not yours). If enough people complain to the higher up, very soon, the GC would ban majority of dishes and the only thin you would be able to serve without people complaining at potlucks would be water… oh, wait, is the water fluoridated?

    1. Damien,
      It’s a bit tongue and cheek… 😉 I happen to know that the author of the article loves food and gatherings of all kinds, and life in general, and is not the whiny type. It’s just a bit of fun.

  3. Pingback: Reinventing Adventist Cuisine: VeggieDogs! | Bonders

  4. Layne Olwin

    While they are at it can they declare what comes in the Loma Linda boxes and cans? Clearly it is not food because ants, roaches or termites won’t eat it. It won’t every go bad. The shelf life is as long as the containers they come in and they taste just as yummy as the cartons.

    Nutritionally bankrupt UFO -unidentified Food Objects no more I saw.

    Great article.

  5. Christine Rowe

    I am on the hospitality committe at my church, we kind of had this problem years ago which we no longer have now. Our leader decided that the hospitality committe would be the ones to cook the meals, since we have started this we no longer have an issue with the food. We have had several people visit from various churches from all over who have ate at our church and have said they have never seen food like ours at a potluck before, we have definitely raised the bar on what and how we serve food at our church. The Palm Coast SDA church in Palm Coast Florida. I sing so I go to several churches and attend pot lucks and what they serve is a crying shame, we should be serving the best for church.

    1. Deborah

      Hey, they serve at the potlucks what they give in tithes and offerings. Not much to say the least. Some never even bring a dish, but is always looking for a meal, including a take-out to eat at work instead of packing their own lunch while they work on the Sabbath. Others just fix the cheapest thing they can buy ie white rice, rice & beans, beans, pasta and so little vegetable dishes. And yes, some of the food prepared and presented does looks like dog food. I don’t touch it as if it doesn’t look right, I know it’s more than likely not going to taste good.

    2. Sally McKelvy

      Christine Rowe, what part of the hospitality committee cooking the meal makes it a “potluck”. Isn’t part of the idea that people share what they have with each other? Yes, I’ve encountered some seriously gruesome potluck offerings, and no, I would not demand that anyone eat everything on their plates, as even the most appetizing appearing dish may taste really bad. But to take away the sharing of food would seem similar to hiring a butler to wash everyone’s feet….because we have ALL encountered that pair of truly stinky feet.

  6. Tailor

    Funny idea – the article. Put poorly executed which makes it not that funny. Too bad. Must have been written by an Adventist educated in the Adventist school system…

    1. Ray Powell

      Interesting that you denigrate the Adventist school system when studies have shown that the more years a student spends in the Adventist school system the farther ahead of the national average they score!

      1. Mia

        Your kidding right. I agree with Tailor. I wasted so many years in the Adventist system. All you get out of it is debt. I wish I had gone to a publish university. I’d have 1/4th the debt and a degree I could actually use. Out of my close 15 friends I went to SAU with… only 4 actually graduated in 4 years. 1 grated in 7, and one in 9. They string you along saying oh only a few more classes, just a few more. The advisers clear your schedule saying oh yes this is what you need, however it’s a joke. They just want you to take more classes and some that you don’t need so you are stuck going to college for 5+ years. You do not have a higher education then that of a public university. The only thing I gained from going to Adventist schools were the friends I made, and the debt I accumulated. So for Ray, someone has misled you into believing something that isn’t true. The Adventist schools will take ANYBODY in as long as they pay.

        1. Flyboy

          I happen to be one of those who advise students at SAU, being a faculty there. A college cannot just let a student graduate in four years without meeting certain requirements. Our requirements aren’t substantially different from most other American colleges. And, the regional accrediting body – the same one that accredits Vanderbilt, UT, Emory, Duke, etc. – would remove accreditation if we lowered our standards.

          As for accepting anyone…. not true. In the average year I have at least one advisee who is assigned (upon receipt of his/her application) to me but ultimately not accepted because the person does not submit ACT or SAT score that are high enough. It is true, though, that we do not have the same philosophy toward education as, say, Harvard, nor should we. We are a small school seeking to provide a Christian education to a primarily SDA student body. Highly selective schools have a different mission.

          Higher education is expensive, no doubt about that, and we should be looking for ways to make it more affordable, but in reality our SDA schools are some of the cheaper options out there when it comes to four-year institutions, public or private. Don’t believe it? Investigate it for yourself.

          Why it took your friends 7 and 9 years to finish college…. anyone’s guess… but I really doubt this is SAU’s fault.

  7. Jacqueline Hills

    Though some may see this is not funny, in actuality, it really is…. Many times we don’t realize that the very One who created us also has a “sense of humor”… A lot of times we are so very critical and allow ourselves to see the negative in everything. If we , as professed Christians, could accept and believe that behind every storm there is a RAINBOW… The RAINBOW in this article is that someone (God’s creation) was so very talented, in that, he/she saw that we (fellow-like Christians) needed some humor in our very existence or life today. We need to LAUGH and enjoy God’s humor in whatever form in comes. For LAUGHTER is like medicine to the soul. And I don’t know about you but when I read this, I thought about ALL the trials and tribulations and ALL the darts that Satans hurded at me in just that one particular day, I cried out JESUS, I need PEACE and He heard my cry and He instantly gave me medicine for my soul in the form of LAUGHTER and it felt GOOD… Therefore I say thank you Jesus and thank you to whoever thought this up for I now feel GOOD and my burdens have been placed at the Foot of the Cross…

  8. lesa

    Prepare your food. Invite someone who has no food to your home. Go home and eat it. When I was younger my parents walked with snacks to tide us over til we got home. Stop henkering at church and then complain about what someone else used their time and money to prepare.

  9. Ray Powell

    This has got to be a spoof! The sad part is that there are some negative type people that will see this and take it for the gospel truth and use it as a further excuse to turn away from the church.

    1. JK

      Please. “A further excuse” means “some negative type people” have already turned. It should be “gospel truth” because what makes this article so hilarious is that it IS so close to the truth.

  10. Kevin figueroa

    I believe that the church needs to step up the quality of food we serve at church. As funny as this article may be it is totally true with he years of experience at my local church in europe. First of all the church is not strong in implementing truths. Everyone seems scared on telling others things that are not going well. First of all the church should educate the people on how to prepare good healthy foods. Secondly, everywhere I go there seem to be sisters and brothers who just dont see the need to purchase and make quality foods, few are wiling to give money for quality coocking. We mock and make small our God when we serve cheep foods. The more i get upset when parties, baby showers, festive moments and expensive clothes seem to receive more attention then food. Allot of times visitors just feels disgusting in eating nasty cheep foods. Should not the best be served? Even if its soup only, it must be thhe best. Thirdly aloot of people do not know how to cook. Many foods lack taste and arent delicious at all. Not all should allowed to cook. Also many people have filthy kitchens which just disgust me. They are pigs and they forget that next to godlikeness thers cleanliness. Fourthly, many adventist just love cooking vegetarian meats like gluten, etc eho just taste like crap. The notion that these veg meats ought to be served is a misconception. Most of these products are just flour with salt and crap. Not healthy at all. We need to utilize what nauture gives us,. Many visitors crap their pants or just get sick . Sometimes some foods were prepared ompn friday and they dor not know how to preserve it well. Sometimes certain foods just stink ew. It smells rotten!. The act of hovering around like a vacuumcleaner ise what many leaders do. They walk arround with big bellies eating fthe food of 4 proeple.

  11. Bob

    Rule # 1 While attending a pot luck: Do not ask a member how did they enjoy you dish . If your dish is empty and none of it is in the trash, then you have your answer . Do not ask the member, check the trash and check your serving container on the table .
    #2 After all the members have sat down at the table and appear to be enjoying their meal do not got to the pot luck table and notice that no one has thought of your dish as much as you have, and begin to walk around the room dish in hand approaching members declaring how great you think your dish is, you worked hard on this dish. This dish has been in my family for generations. As soon as this person finish nominating her dish into Paula Deens top ten dishes of all times she begins to start serving her dish into everybody’s plate that she is near. Try it, tell me what you think. All these unspoken words and thoughts arise. Ladie couldn’t you see! Lady did you not hear the message today from the pastor? The devil is a lie and I am not the Devil ! Ye shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free. In the last day perilous times shall come. Another thought, my body is the temple of God. Like Peter on lake as he was sinking, Lord help me!!!! Don’t do it!!!!!!!!
    #3 If you do not have the proper place in which to prepare food for the public be considerate of others and cook in an approve location. Just to let you know some church kitchens are not approved, if truth be told!!!
    # 4 Be clean!!!!! In food perpetration restrain from handling food with your hands. No matter how clean you think your hands are. You would not sit at the table and reach over and touch other peoples food. Have the same attitude in the kitchen. If you are sick stay out of the kitchen . I have seen people coughing in the kitchen over the food,and in thir hands while serving the bread. Don’t do it!!!!!!!
    Remember it is all about the congregation, and not contamination !!!!!
    My thoughts!!!

  12. Marti Hall

    It’s disappointing to see people take this so SERIOUSLY! Just perpetuates the “Sad-ventist” stereotype…
    Seriously! People! Lighten up! It’s funny stuff, especially if you’ve grown up attending hundreds of Adventist potlucks, choking down hundreds of questionable “brown loaves” made of who-knows-what… Of COURSE it’s tongue-in-cheek! But it’s funny because it’s based on truth!

  13. Ronald Falculan

    This is gastronomically affirming. It just comes to show that Adventists love humor. We even finds this at our table. I wonder how our opinions would be when we join in our potlucks in heaven with our Heavenly Father…. Presumably no fishing out Serving spoons.

  14. Dr. D. Wilson-Cole

    Such an article derides and disparages the critical work of our church’s body responsible for the spiritual and developmental growth of the world church. The author may want to bring in some humor about potluck which I have no problem with but attributing some silly comments to a committee of the GC is scandalous. Please be more responsible with issues of the church. Sadventists we are not! Happy people waiting for the glorious return of Jesus we are!

    1. Pastor M

      Maybe you might want to visit a few other churches before you make these comments. Some church as filled with sadventists, which is unfortunate. I guess you have never had lettuce soup for potluck.

  15. Doreen

    I think the article has some merit, but I’m a little disappointed in some of the wording used to describe “potlucks” and others comments; words could have been more “tasteful” if not so crude. Not a good representation of who “Adventists” really are. I agree there are some potlucks that could use some polishing and maybe better taste in what is served. I feel very blessed to be where I am as our potlucks are very tastefully presented, and we have great groups & teams that oversee what takes place on potluck Sabbaths.

  16. Richard Mills

    Just had a “potluck” at church today in honor of Youth Day. Some stuff looks good, some stuff looks “yucky”, some looks poisonous, some looks unfit to consume. After awhile you figure out what’s what and what ain’t. Won’t share my secret. Desserts are always great. Today, somebody brought 2 gallons of chemicals for juice-contents; no juice, water & “flavors” & coloring. Oddly, all the dishes were empty! This should be an agenda item for all SDA churches at the next church board or business meeting. The local church is the church with boots on the ground, not the GC! Let us locals make the decision. Get it done! Get it right! We’ve gone “potluckamania”!

    1. Pastor M

      PD foods must have taught our generation of Adventist how to serve nasty food. Talk about chemicals for a juice substitute, I don;t think we every had realy fruit juice at our academy.

  17. carolyn adams

    I have been eating vegetarian since I was 6 mo old. the dr. told my mother to give me ground beef. that did not set ell with her. she ground up choplets and gave that to me. I have been eating vegetarian food all my life. you need to learn to season they will be delicious. my favorite to take to church potlucks is oatmeal hamburgers simmered in mushroom soup, take them other places too. never come home with anything left in my dish. just saying

  18. Joshua

    American Adventists ought to go to a potluck at a church in a different country or a more ethnic Adventist church near a city. Now that is good food!! Seriously it is all home cooked local foods with non of the fake health that most Adventist live on. My favorite potlucks so far always come from churches with lots of Filipinos. They make the best potluck food! The English church in Hong Kong has got to be my favorite. so many cuisines on one table and they treated me like family!

  19. Hearty laughter!! Yes! I love my church. As a Medical Missionary, I have learned great stuff about food. Our churches can certainly do with much education about cooking, digestion and food combination. This will certainly eliminate much unwelcome trips to the bathroom after a potluck. Guys, campaign for quality cooking classes for your churches!

  20. Jan

    My church is wonderful, and I am always bragging up our cooks. Our potlucks are all great. I once visited a new church, taking a lemon cake and cottage cheese loaf for potluck. I soon noticed that my dish didn’t have a happy face sticker on it like the rest of the hot dishes. Hmm! When it was time for a dessert my cake was nowhere to be found. I asked and someone found it hidden behind a tall counter in the kitchen on purpose. I later figured out I had attempted to fellowship with some the 144,000 vegans. Have mercy! Some of us are slow learners.

    1. Bex

      Haha! Sad thing is, I’ve been treated that same way, but at people’s HOUSES. I bring a dish that is 95% vegan and I get dirty looks from PEOPLE I KNOW. Then was later berated over Facebook message for not being considerate to the vegans. I’m poor and I work with what I got. Needless to say, I haven’t “fellowshipped” in a while with those people.
      (And have left the Adventist church too.)

  21. Cheryl Young

    Sorry people finding potluck food not so good…they haven’t been to Hood View Church in Boring Oregon…the foods down right deeee’licious!…and usually an over abundance….I laughed too hard on this article…dang…your fault I’m suffering pain now….but MUST share this potluck ha ha!
    Is true story…no joke here! This took place at El Cajon Church, more than 30 yrs ago!
    Were a bunch of us young women sitting at one table…we loved potlucks as it gave us a time to catch up on latest while the men jabberjawed about church politics.
    As we finished off most of our plates, a few of us made some rather nasty faces as we bit into someones dessert concoction….I said “Man, this is down right NASTY tasting!”…Lolita chipped in saying about the same thing….Martina actually spit hers out, discreetly into a napkin of course, and I questioned “Wonder who the heck made this garbage…it taste horrible!”….our friend, Carol hung her head low, whispering “I’m sorry…I made it…didn’t follow a recipe, was in a hurry!”
    We never laughed so hard in all the years we’d been friends….but seriously…NEVER say anything negative about a pot luck item as you never know who concocted it!…just quietly spit it out!
    The “Straight up Nasty” category applied to this dish for sure!
    What really worries me…some of the food taste like freezer burn….and I worry about some kitchens being very unsanitary!….that last freezer burn flavored food, had me rethinking potlucks! I stopped eating at them….no way!…someones going to get sick one of these days!

  22. Bex

    What about a strict reformed ban on any dish that could be classified as “fake meat” (big franks, TVP, burgers, tofu chicken…)
    Flesh eating is a SIN and anyone who tries to copy the taste of meat to gratify their own selfish senses is SINNING.
    Too many spices and dairy products and chemics are used when trying to prepare vegetarian meat!

    This is why our youth are leaving! We are back sliding and allowing spices and temptation to creep into our foods! It’s too exciting and the youth experience flare ups of their animal passions every time they eat fake meats and dishes with too much dairy or spices.
    We need to straighten up! Jesus is coming back soon! Do you want Him to find you imbibing in spicy chemical-laden meat substitutes???

  23. Allenette

    Well, I’m a PK, old, experienced, who claims “never was SDA…” I was only raised in, never convinced but the one thing I always champion, is the potluck…I liked the food and was as a child moved from east coast to near west coast. I must admit my experience was 40+ years ago…my favorite food is Special K Loaf…I used to go to the Madison, TN SDA hospital cafeteria just to buy some…and I miss it. Anyone of youse still loyals got a good recipe or it?

  24. Larry

    The typical Adventist potluck is just plain crap. But that doesn’t matter to the first bunch of food-hogs that run to line first. Just watch their plates. Filled to the overflowing with everything. Leaving very little for those of us who have been visiting in church or cleaning up. I find it disgusting how inconsiderate so many people are about hogging all the food. The best idea is to just visit. Hit the dessert table, then head to Sweet Tomatoes, Claim Jumpers, or the Spaghetti Factory for something to eat.
    The good potlucks are the ethnic potlucks. They actually care that everyone gets something to eat.Try a Filipino or a Samoan potluck. Maybe some really good barbecue at the Samoan.

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