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Union grieves tragic loss of senior

JACKSON, Tenn. (BP) — Union University students, faculty and staff continue to mourn the loss of Union student Olivia Greenlee.

Greenlee, 21, a senior music major, was found dead in her car Feb. 12 on Union’s campus in Jackson, Tenn., from an apparent gunshot wound. Jackson police later charged Greenlee’s fiancé Charles Pittman, 21, a senior Christian ministries major, with first-degree murder and tampering with evidence in connection with Greenlee’s death.

“Many of us are baffled, in disbelief, sad, and grieving, yet grieving not without hope because of our faith and our confidence in the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ,” David S. Dockery, Union’s president, said Feb. 14 during a special prayer service for Greenlee held on campus.

“The Bible tells us to weep with those who weep. And across campus this week, there have been plenty of tears.”

Todd Brady, vice president for university ministries, also spoke during the service.

“Reeling, staggering, speechless, grieving: These are words that describe us this week,” Brady said.

“We have not known what to pray for as we ought, and we have trusted that the Spirit has interceded for us with groanings that are too deep for words,” he said, invoking Romans 8:26.

On Feb. 15, Jackson police arrested Pittman in connection with Greenlee’s death. Police have not released a motive and say the investigation continues, according to The Jackson Sun.

Following Pittman’s arrest, Dockery said in a statement that “this tragedy, involving two Union University commuter students, is incredibly devastating and saddening news.

“Understanding that an arrest is not the same thing as a conviction, we now need to let the judicial process run its course. Union University continues to cooperate with authorities.”

“During this difficult time, words motivated by hatred or judgment are not helpful to anyone,” Dockery said. “I want to encourage us to pray for all the families connected to this tragedy. Let us ask for God’s wisdom, comfort, help and mercy during the days and weeks to come.”

The funeral service for Greenlee was held Feb. 16 at her home church, First Baptist in Dyersburg, Tenn. She is the granddaughter of Joe Naylor, retired director of missions for Dyer Baptist Association, based in Dyersburg.

In addition to four Union counselors, the Tennessee Baptist Convention’s disaster relief team has sent counselors to help minister to the Union community and churches in the area touched by this tragedy, said Randy C. Davis, TBC executive director-treasurer.

“Since the tragic events of last Wednesday we’ve been in constant contact with leadership at Union,” Davis said.

“I’d like to ask our network of churches across Tennessee to join me in continuing to pray for the precious families affected by the tragic death of Olivia as well as Dr. Dockery, staff and faculty, and Union University students as they go through this time of deep grief and unimaginable sorrow,” Davis added.
Contributed to by Tennessee Baptist & Reflector, Union University and Baptist Press staff. Get Baptist Press headlines and breaking news on Twitter (@BaptistPress), Facebook (Facebook.com/BaptistPress) and in your email (baptistpress.com/SubscribeBP.asp).

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