Baptists' gifts to Union surpass $3M

JACKSON, Tenn. (BP)--Total giving from Southern Baptist churches and entities has topped $3 million for Union University's recovery from a Feb. 5 tornado that destroyed much of the housing and caused major damage to other academic buildings at the Jackson, Tenn., campus.

Tennessee Baptist churches and entities have given $1.8 million of the $3 million total.

"We are immensely grateful to our friends both in Tennessee and across the Southern Baptist Convention for their generosity to us in our time of need," Union University President David S. Dockery said. "The Lord has used so many people to be a great blessing to us."

More than 800 congregations in Tennessee and across the SBC have provided $2.2 million toward Union's recovery. Much of the giving from Tennessee Baptist Convention churches came in a special April 6 offering requested by TBC President Tom McCoy.

All told, more than 6,000 donors have contributed about $13 million to the cause, leaving Union about $5 million short of its needs.

Despite good insurance, Dockery said Union faced an $18 million shortfall caused by a number of factors, such as deductibles, lost revenue from student housing and other programs and the increased cost of rebuilding campus housing to greater standards.

Total damage from the tornado has been estimated at $40 million.

The rebuilding process for the campus housing complexes has gone better than expected, Dockery said. Fourteen new student housing buildings, arranged in four new complexes, will be ready for students to occupy when they return for the fall semester in September.

"The financial challenges are still pressing," Dockery said. "But we are confident that the God who has been so gracious to us thus far will continue to raise up people to provide for us. We thank Him for his goodness, and we thank Tennessee Baptists and Southern Baptists for their sacrificial support."

James M. Porch, executive director-treasurer of the TBC, said he is thankful for the way Tennessee Baptists have responded, both financially and by volunteering their time, to Union's needs.

"I remember my initial response to the news of the tornado devastation at Union: 'A part of our Baptist family is hurt -- hurt badly,'" Porch said. "We thank God for His watch care over the Union campus, the students and faculty and the stamina and spirit of giving that has prevailed through our people in response to this tragedy. To God be the glory."


Tim Ellsworth is director of news and media relations at Union University.

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