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Criswell ‘share-a-thon’: $50,000 for Union

JACKSON, Tenn. (BP)–More than $50,000 has been raised for Union University’s tornado recovery through fundraising efforts initiated by Criswell College in Dallas.

The college joined a growing list of more than 600 donors who have given about $1.5 million in the past two weeks to Union’s rebuilding efforts from the devastating Feb. 5 tornado. Belmont University in Nashville provided $100,000 Feb. 14 and the six Southern Baptist seminaries together have pledged nearly $50,000.

During a visit to the Jackson, Tenn., campus, Jerry Johnson, president of Criswell College, presented a check and a greeting card signed by Criswell students to Union President David Dockery.

Students and faculty at Criswell took an offering during a Feb. 7 chapel service that raised about $500. The college’s KCBI radio station continued the fundraising campaign Feb. 8 via a live broadcast.

“The gift from our wonderful friends at KCBI/Criswell College in Dallas is a marker of God’s providential provision for Union University at this hour of need,” Dockery said.

Union graduate Kristen Ulmer Cole was asked to say a few words about Union during the first day of the live “share-a-thon” broadcast on KCBI.

“To be in the studio and hear people call in to give their money and hear their response was really touching,” Cole said.

The outpouring of financial contributions from a community so far removed from the Union campus in Tennessee surprised both Johnson and Cole.

“I was [surprised] but I should not have been, because God has limitless resources,” Johnson said. “That is what you all believe, that is what we believe, that is what we teach and that is what we pray.”

During her visit to the KCBI studio, Cole was able to see firsthand the type of response the station received. “It was exciting to know that half of the donors didn’t even know what Union was but they were still calling in,” Cole said.

She said more than $25,000 was raised by the end of the first day and phone lines remained open another two days.

“The people at Criswell remember Dr. Dockery — he was one of the shining stars of Criswell College,” Johnson said. Dockery previously served as professor of theology and New Testament at Criswell and edited the Criswell Theological Review. “We just wanted to come alongside him and do what we could to make a difference.”

Donations to Union through KCBI radio have not concluded. Johnson received a phone call on his way to Jackson, asking where a check could be sent. He said this additional check will be mailed as soon as it is received.

“We thank God for Jerry Johnson and for the generous support provided for Union by our KCBI friends,” Dockery said.

And Johnson noted, “God is going to do something great in the midst of the mess you all are dealing with, and I hope this is a little sign of God’s faithfulness.”

Belmont President Robert Fisher sent that institution’s donation to Dockery Feb. 14, along with a personal letter, according to Union spokesman Tim Ellsworth.

“Please accept the enclosed check as an expression of care and concern from Belmont University students to Union University students during this time of incredible challenge,” Fisher wrote. “Belmont faculty, staff, students and trustees are continuing to seek opportunities to show their support for Union, and as funds from these efforts are available they will be forwarded. However, we know that there are urgent needs and did not want to delay sending this gift.

“Please know that your students, faculty and staff remain in our prayers.”

“We are so thankful for the generosity of Belmont President Robert Fisher and the Belmont board of trustees for helping us in this way during our time of need,” Dockery said. “We continue to give thanks to God for the outpouring of support from our friends at places like Belmont.”

Among the other sizeable donations received by Union: LifeWay Christian Resources, $350,000; First Bank, $110,000; Tennessee Baptist Convention executive board, $50,000; Tennessee Baptist Convention Children’s Home, $50,000; and Southern Baptists of Texas Convention, $20,000.

All faculty and staff returned to campus Feb. 18 to prepare for students to return the next day. Classes are scheduled to resume Feb. 20.
Alison Ball is a senior public relations student at Union University.

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