SBC president calls for Union offering; SBC EC president calls for help with recovery

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)--Frank Page, president of the Southern Baptist Convention, asked Southern Baptists to support Union University with their prayers and with a special offering after the Baptist-affiliated school suffered extensive damage from a tornado Feb. 5.

"The vast amount of damage -- perhaps as much as $50 million -- leaves the institution in a desperate situation immediately," Page said in a statement Feb. 8. "I am calling on Southern Baptists to prayerfully consider giving a love offering to this dear institution.” On one of the next several Sundays, Page said, “I pray that we would give sacrificially and lovingly to a part of our family ... which needs our assistance."

Most of Union's student housing buildings were destroyed or severely damaged, and at least 17 buildings on campus were damaged, including the library. Although the university was insured, Page said it may take months or even a year before an insurance settlement is complete. In the meantime, Page called on Southern Baptists "to understand the gravity of what has occurred at Union University."

"Let us, as Southern Baptists, reach out to persons in each of the affected states, churches which may be involved, but also to our dear friends at Union University," Page said.

Donations can be sent to "Union University Disaster Relief Fund" at 1050 Union University Drive, Jackson, TN 38305. The university also is suggesting that those who want to help students consider providing gift cards that can be used in stores like Wal-Mart, Target, Lowe's or Home Depot.

"I pray that you would give to help out these dear brothers and sisters in Christ," Page said.

Page also asked for prayer for David Dockery, president of the university, as well as the faculty, staff and students.

"Just the day before, I spoke on the phone to my dear friend, David Dockery," Page said. "As usual, he exhibited a compassionate, loving demeanor. I know that sweet spirit will continue through the rebuilding of Union University."

On Feb. 7, Morris H. Chapman, president of the Southern Baptist Convention's Executive Committee, issued a statement thanking God for His protection of the Union University family and asking Southern Baptists to help with recovery efforts.

"The costs of repair will be steep and the adjustments many. I ask Southern Baptists everywhere to lift up this sister institution in prayerful concern and support," Chapman said.

Chapman reflected, "I join Southern Baptists across the nation in thanking God for His protection of the Union University family. In a night marked by danger and death across the region, the Lord supernaturally overshadowed His children at Union University. We rejoice that no one there sustained life-threatening injuries. Buildings can be repaired or rebuilt, automobiles can be replaced, scattered notes and books can be recovered, but members of the family are irreplaceable."

Also voicing prayer for Dockery's leadership amid the crisis, Chapman noted that Union's president "has been an extraordinary leader in a time of crisis, and we should pray he be strengthened for the enormous rebuilding task ahead."


Erin Roach is a staff writer for Baptist Press.

Following is the complete text of the statement by Frank Page, president of the Southern Baptist Convention, released Feb. 8:

Southern Baptists awoke on the morning of Feb. 6, 2008 to hear of catastrophic damage by tornadoes in several southern states during the night. We were equally shocked and saddened to hear of the major damage done at Union University. At this writing there have been 50 students taken to hospitals, eight with serious injuries, but none of the injuries seem to be life threatening. How our hearts go out to the families of these who have been injured and certainly to those who have lost loved ones in other states hit by these tornadoes.

Please be much in prayer for Dr. David Dockery, the president of that institution, as well as the faculty, staff and students of Union University. Just the day before, I spoke on the phone to my dear friend, David Dockery. As usual, he exhibited a compassionate, loving demeanor. I know that sweet spirit will continue through the rebuilding of Union University.

No doubt, Tennessee Baptists, as well as the other affected states' disaster relief will be on the way quickly. Let us, as Southern Baptists, reach out to persons in each of the affected states, churches which may be involved, but also to our dear friends at Union University.

As president of the Southern Baptist Convention, I call on Southern Baptists to understand the gravity of what has occurred at Union University. While the institution is insured, it may well take many months, perhaps even a year for that settlement to be concluded.

The vast amount of damage -- perhaps as much as $50 million -- leaves the institution in a desperate situation immediately. I am calling on Southern Baptists to prayerfully consider giving a love offering to this dear institution. I pray that we would give sacrificially and lovingly to a part of our family (though technically they are a Tennessee Baptist institution) which needs our assistance.

Would you and your church consider a special love offering on one of the next several Sundays for Union University? I pray that you would give to help out these dear brothers and sisters in Christ.

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