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When I moved to California from Great Britain nearly two decades ago, the request for hot tea prompted more than a few raised eyebrows and puzzled looks. Of course, I had never encountered iced tea before. But lately I have noticed the ready availability, not only of hot tea selections, but also of tea-making accoutrements (electric kettles, tea pots, novelty tea strainers, etc.), all happy signs of an evolving tea-friendly society.
No longer do we need to take our own stash of tea on visits to our friends’ houses (a one-time staple of our car’s glove compartment box). According to a 2011 statistic from the Tea Association of the USA, “on any given day, over 160 million Americans are drinking tea.” We could not be happier that this home comfort is at home here, too; the famed British cuppa (aka. cup of tea) is worthy of its longevity.
Growing up in 1970s Wales, the tradition of tea fit into my somewhat culturally eclectic Afro-Caribbean Adventist family life. In fact, there was tea and tea: the beverage on the one hand and the social interaction over a drink and light refreshment on the other. In my home, the label “tea” was broadly applied to include any hot beverage (except soup), for enjoying in company or alone. A bite-size savory or sweet accompaniment that was quick and easy to pull together complemented it. Sometimes, it came out of the packet, like biscuits (cookies) or better still, was homemade, like Welsh cakes. These stone-cooked teacakes have a history steeped in Welsh tradition.
Fond recollections of Friday-night worship capture tea as the central attraction. We often had a variety of people gathered together, including church members, overseas college students, neighbors and sometimes school friends. After closing prayer, my mother would head for the kitchen to prepare the tea tray, while everyone fell into relaxed conversation and fellowship.
When the tea tray made its appearance, complete with a filled-to-the-brim teapot, a wonky tower of stacked teacups, and a plate of freshly griddled Welsh cakes, we had the fixings to fuel the fellowship late into the evening. We ate, we talked, we sang and we drank tea.
In my emotional memory at least, tea embraces everyone, which makes it not only a great idea, but also an apt metaphor for inclusiveness.
Fruit and herbal teas, of course, long featured in our pantries and with key ingredients that are somewhat ubiquitous in our daily fare, likely need no introduction. The taste of apple, for instance, gets around in so many different ways—a pie, a tangy chutney or refreshing pressed cider. The mint plants that grew through rain and shine at the bottom of my childhood garden never failed to find their way into a hot and soothing mint tea when called for. Here in the States, I have been delightfully surprised by berries I never knew existed until I saw them on a box of fruit tea. The blending of herbal teas (chamomile and vanilla) offers exciting possibilities to explore.
Popular blends of black tea also have their decaffeinated counterparts. Since practically all the caffeine is safely rinsed out of the leaves (97 percent caffeine-free is the international standard for decaffeinated tea or coffee), try several different brands before settling on the one that has the distinctive flavor you enjoy. Black tea has an acquired taste, but once you find the right brand, you can fine-tune it to your taste buds like anything else. Since the customizing of tea takes place right in the individual cup and not in the communal pot, everyone can—with a little practice—create their perfect cup of tea.
Norma Borrett is a high school English teacher in an independent charter school. She lives in Newcastle, Calif., with her husband and two children.
Photo credit: Norma Borrett
This week’s recipes feature tea and Welsh Cakes (both pictured). The latter comes from a traditional recipe, and is one of the first things that Welsh children learn to cook. Norma writes, “Welsh cakes can be split and spread with butter and jam. They can stored on the countertop for a week in an airtight container, and the dough can be refrigerated or frozen until ready for use.”
1. To warm, fill a 1-quart teapot with hot water, then let it stand for five minutes. Add three tea bags per pot, or four, if using decaffeinated tea bags.
2. Make it as strong or as weak as you’d like; add a slice of lemon; a splash of milk (or your preferred dairy-free alternative, such as almond milk); drink it black; sip it plain; or add sugar or another natural sweetener, such as honey.
Total time: 40 minutes
Active prep time: 25 minutes
2 cups flour (all-purpose or whole wheat, or half of each)
1 cup sugar
2 sticks (1 cup) butter or non-hydrogenated butter substitute, such as I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter or Earth Balance Buttery Sticks
½ teaspoon nutmeg
A pinch salt
½ cup raisins or dried sultanas (a pale green seedless grape variety)
1 egg, beaten
2 tablespoons milk (a little more milk might be needed to soften)
A smear of cooking oil for the griddle, and more to replenish as needed
1. In a large bowl, mix together the flour, sugar, salt and nutmeg
2. Cut the butter into small cubes and rub it into the flour using your fingers or a spoon.
3. With a fork, mix the crumbly concoction, then gradually stir in the beaten egg and the milk to form a stiff dough. Be sure not to make the dough too sticky to handle or to roll.
4. Roll out dough on a floured surface to just over 1/3-inch (1 cm) thickness, then cut with a pastry cutter into rounds roughly four inches in diameter (the rim of an 8-ounce glass works well for this).
5. Place rounds on a hot, oiled griddle and cook for eight minutes on each side, until the rounds are various shades of mottled browns and tans and creams. Vary time as needed to make sure the inside is cooked through.
6. Remove from skillet and place on a cooling rack. Sprinkle with sugar (both sides) and let cool.
During his presidency of the Seventh-day Adventist denomination, Jan Paulsen participated in over 30 episodes of a one-hour live talk show broadcast on the church’s international television network. “Let’s Talk” gave young adults on six continents the opportunity to ask questions of their church’s president. It was unscripted and unrehearsed. The “Let’s Talk” website provided additional opportunities for them to express their questions directly to the president. These conversations in person and over email inspired this book. In it, Elder Paulsen invites Adventists of all ages to join these timely conversations.
This book is passionate about listening. For Elder Paulsen church is family and he reminds us that in a family differences of opinion are normal, to be expected, yet we still remain family. Each voice remains valued. In families we listen to each other. Paulsen believes that honest questions from family members even though they might be troubling deserve thoughtful responses, particularly when the questions are from the younger members. They are family. So we hear his moving refrain: “This is what they said. This is the church speaking to the church.” Will the rest of us join the conversation?
The questions asked by young people in their conversations with Elder Paulsen included topics ranging widely from wearing jewelry to racism, military service, women in ministry, community activism, homosexuality and more. The issues may be divisive and difficult, but conversation is the key. Elder Paulsen believes we must learn from and with each other. His frank discussion of the issues is unembarrassed, unafraid and deeply refreshing. These are just the kinds of questions I hear when I speak at singles conventions and youth events and weekend retreats. Elder Paulsen believes that when young people are silent and stop asking questions it does not mean that they are in agreement but rather indicates “minds closing, attitudes hardening, and communication coming to an abrupt end.” And, “when conversation ends, people walk away from each other…” So…Let’s Talk!
The format of the book reflects its main points. The actual questions of young adults begin each chapter. Then Elder Paulsen shares his thoughtful perspective, often bringing in examples from his wealth of international experience. Each chapter ends with “conversation starter” questions and scenarios. In addition to his proven leadership, Elder Paulsen’s deep pastoral wisdom and skill as a teacher shine through, providing provocative questions for his readers to ponder individually, but more importantly within our faith communities.
I heard myself say, “wow!” as Paulsen quoted singer and social activist Bono when addressing young people’s concern that church is culturally irrelevant. Then it was “yes!” in the chapter encouraging intellectual curiosity. Even my occasional “really?” pulled me into the conversation. I heard myself joining in. I am sure you will too. Whether you are young or old you will find these conversations just as engaging.
The Adventist students in my classroom and in the church where I worship will love this book and will be richly blessed to read this courageous and compassionate invitation to wrestle with contemporary issues with one such as Elder Paulsen as a guide. Paulsen shows that he has listened carefully, read widely and understands that young people are savvy with social media, sharply aware of issues in science and technology, and long for a church that leads by standing up for its moral convictions. This is just what my students need! Elder Paulsen recognizes that issues are complex and the challenges posed by the questions may not always have neat answers, but he is still willing to listen and remains confident in the younger generation of our church family and in the God who leads them.
This book by a deeply wise leader clearly indicates he loves his family, all of us, because he loves the Adventist church so very much.
—Kendra Haloviak Valentine is Associate Professor of New Testament Studies at La Sierra University.
Stan Patterson, Ph.D., is Associate Professor of Church Leadership and chair of the Department of Christian Ministry at the Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary at Andrews University. This sermon was recorded at the 2013 Georgia-Cumberland Conference South Georgia Camp Meeting in Macon, GA.
Thanks to Carmen Lau and Bille for recommending this sermon.
Constituency delegates approved a series of changes to La Sierra University’s bylaws during a special meeting held on the campus on May 23. The revised bylaws document passed by a vote of 69-10, or 87 percent, well beyond the two-thirds vote required for passage. The bylaws revisions provide refinement to La Sierra University’s governance, while addressing some concerns about the university’s bylaws expressed since 1996 by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges, La Sierra’s regional accrediting agency.
This follows an information session held on February 21 in which constituents offered feedback and suggestions on the proposed bylaws revisions.
“We all need to appreciate the difficult task that our Articles and Bylaws Committee members have had to complete,” said Ricardo Graham, Pacific Union president and current La Sierra University board chair. “During their nearly two years of study and review, committee members have listened to constituency delegate feedback, and have used care to ensure the revised bylaws meet current governance needs while reinforcing La Sierra University’s clear and unequivocal connection to the Seventh-day Adventist Church and its mission and philosophy.”
The significant bylaws changes fall into two main areas:
Changing the way in which the board chair is selected.
Making clear the specific roles of the Board of Trustees and the university President.
Delegates approved bylaws changes that require, in consultation with Pacific Union Conference officers, La Sierra University’s Board chair to be elected by the board itself from one of the four ex officio member Union officers, rather than automatically being the Union president. This change allows the trustees to select their own chair, while simultaneously ensuring that the chair will always be an officer of the Pacific Union. An additional key limitation would be that neither the chair or vice chair of La Sierra’s board can serve concurrently as chair or vice chair of another university or college board. This resolves Pacific Union Conference’s unique issue in its operation of two institutions. La Sierra University and Pacific Union College both faced questions from the accrediting agency on this issue that are not faced by institutions in the rest of the North American Division.
Since 1990, La Sierra’s board membership has included nine ex officio members (the Pacific Union Conference president, secretary, treasurer, vice president; the Pacific Union Conference education director; the presidents of the Arizona, Southeastern California, and Southern California Conferences; and the university president); and 14 members elected by the constituency. No change in that composition was considered during this process. Additionally, the revised bylaws require all 14 elected trustees be members of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. Previously one elected trustee could be from outside the Church.
The approved bylaws charge the Board of Trustees with ensuring that the mission and major policies of the university reflect the goals and objectives of the Adventist Church. Other changes recognize the limitations of expecting a board to manage day-to-day details of a complex institution.
The board will continue to appoint the president, provost, and vice president for financial administration, and grant tenure to members of the faculty. This allows the board to have direct interaction with the administrative, academic, and financial leaders of the university. It allows trustees to maintain financial oversight of the university, and to establish the policies necessary to university governance. The president is identified as the university officer accountable for implementing the board’s broad policies into daily operations.
Trustees will also focus on providing strategic vision for the university, establishing governing policies, and protecting the university’s assets. The full bylaws document identifies 18 specific governance functions retained by the trustees under the revised bylaws. The full document will be posted on the university website after the bylaws committee completes editorial changes voted by the delegates
“God’s spirit was evident throughout the session,” Graham said. “I appreciated how delegates cared so much about these issues, as demonstrated through the robust discussion and their insightful questions.
“I am optimistic about La Sierra University’s future,” Graham concluded. “The board, administration, and faculty are committed to building this outstanding institution of higher education and developing the Christian commitment of every student.”
On May 21, 2013, United States Senate Chaplain Barry Black prayed the following at the General Conference headquarters to mark the 150th anniversary of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.
Author and Finisher of our faith, You have been our Hope in ages past, and our Hope for years to come.
Thank You for this opportunity to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the Seventh-day Adventist Church and for the privilege of unveiling a new exhibit on Adventist history at this world headquarters building today.
Lord, for a century and a half, You have used this church to bring deliverance to captives, the recovery of sight to the blind, and to free those who suffer.
Forgive us for the chapters in our history when we were missing in action and unavailable to help the lost, the lonely, and the least. Lord, forgive us for being silent when we should have spoken, and for speaking when we should have been silent. Forgive us, O God, for our sins of commission and omission. We claim Your promise in First John 1:9, that if we confess our sins, You are faithful and just and will forgive us of our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. Thank You, Lord, for your forgiving power.
Continue to challenge us as a church when we are too well pleased with ourselves, when our dreams came true because they are too small, when we arrived safely simply because we sailed too close to the shore.
We recommit ourselves today to accomplish Your great mission. We recommit ourselves today to Calvary and the blood that sets us free. We recommit ourselves, O God, today to bring Your love to all who need encouragement, to all who lack food and clothing, to all who are cold and cheerless, to all who are sick and shut-in, to all who are incarcerated, and to all who long for home and friendship.
We recommit ourselves today to dare more boldly, to venture on wider seas, where storms will show Your mastery, where losing sight of land we will find Your stars.
O God of ages past, push back the horizon of our hopes and lead us into a future fueled by faith, focus and fortitude.
And hasten the day when the Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ rise, then may those of us who are still alive and remaining be caught up to meet our blessed Savior in the air and to live with Him throughout the ceaseless cycles of eternity.
Maranatha, even so come, Lord Jesus. We pray this prayer, in the majestic name of our soon coming Savior and King.
Image: Ansel Oliver/ANN.