Tenn. Baptists rally support for Union

JACKSON, Tenn. (BP)--Tennessee Baptist Convention leaders assured Union University President David S Dockery of convention support during a visit to the tornado-battered campus Feb. 7.

"Union University is a priority," said James Porch, TBC executive director-treasurer. Embracing Dockery, Porch said an appeal would be made to TBC churches for a special offering and a day of prayer for Union at date to be determined in April.

The TBC also has set up a special "Union University Tornado Response" fund in addition to a "Tennessee Tornadoes -- February 2008" fund. All funds designated for Union will be sent directly to Union's administration "to assist students with personal needs, and the college in its response to the damage caused by tornadoes of Feb. 5," Porch said.

Gifts designated for "Union University Tornado Response" can be mailed to the Tennessee Baptist Convention, P.O. Box 728, Brentwood, TN 37024. Gifts also can be made on the TBC website at www.tnbaptist.org.

Porch assured Dockery that "you're in charge. We just want to be your servants."

TBC leadership has initiated plans to develop promotional information to assist churches and their members in understanding the gravity of the devastation at Union, Porch reported, noting, "We want to provide the opportunity for a Christ-like response to the Union family."

TBC President Tom McCoy, who was part of the TBC delegation, earlier had released a statement asking the state's Baptists "to pray to see if the Lord would lay it on your heart to help Union financially in its rebuilding effort. The challenge is great but we trust God will work through you and me to complete the task. Contact the TBC and we'll help you get your contribution to Union."

Mickey Basham, president of the TBC executive board, echoed the call for support.

"My prayer and plea is that we go beyond a 'God bless you' and allow God to use us to be a part of that blessing," Basham said. "We can pray and give to the Union disaster fund and give them a hand up."

Basham added, "The eyes of the nation are on us as Tennessee Baptists. Let us show them Christ and His strength."

Chuck Groover, chairman of the executive board's administrative committee, also agreed that Tennessee Baptists have a unique opportunity "to come together as family to rebuild the dream [at Union]."

McCoy, in his statement after the Feb. 5 tornadoes that ravaged various communities across Tennessee, voiced "our deepest sympathy for those who have lost so much across our whole state, our Baptist churches, and one of our two colleges, Union University."

"Our prayers go out to all the students, the faculty and Dr. Dockery. We are thankful God spared the lives of the school family in the midst of terrible devastation. However, we know the storms destroyed much of the personal possessions of many and I encourage all our Baptist brothers and sisters across our state and nation to support those who have experienced loss."

More details about the April offering and day of prayer for Union University will be forthcoming.

Lonnie Wilkey is editor of the Baptist & Reflector, newsjournal of the Tennessee Baptist Convention.

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