JACKSON, Tenn. – Oct. 22, 2008 – The new Carl Grant Events Center will allow Union University to exercise biblical hospitality more fully to both campus groups and those from the broader community, Union President David S. Dockery said Oct. 21.
“When we practice hospitality, we experience the joy and blessing of being God’s agents of generosity, grace, mercy and kindness,” Dockery said at the dedication ceremony for the Grant Center. “We need to recapture the idea of biblical hospitality, for to share food is to share life. It creates a bond of fellowship that exists in hardly any other way.”
The Grant Center is a $3.5 million, 16,000-square-foot conference center and banquet facility. The new center will seat 600 people and will include a lobby area, public restrooms, a staging room, state-of-the-art audio-visuals and a new president’s dining room.
It will also house the Heritage Center, an area that tells Union’s history from 1823-2007 through hundreds of photographs.
“Our heritage is one for which we are grateful,” Dockery said. “For everyone who has helped to shape and to invest in our past, we are thankful today.”
The banquet facility can be divided into three sections that will each seat 200 people. It will provide space for conferences and banquets both for Union and for the Jackson and West Tennessee communities.
The building is named in honor of Carl J. Grant, who donated $2.5 million for the project. The donation from Grant and his wife Peggy Jo, of Germantown, Tenn., had originally been intended for the enhancement and expansion of Union’s Germantown campus. But with the damage sustained from the Feb. 5 tornado, Grant asked if the gift might better be used for the Jackson campus.
Dockery thanked Grant during the ceremony for his generosity in helping to provide such a facility for the Union campus.
“Without his generosity, without his commitment to Union University, without his gracious blessing to this place, this facility would not have taken place,” Dockery said.
Grant, in turn, expressed his gratitude to Dockery, the Union staff and trustees for their role in the vision and implementation of the Grant Center.
“We feel like we were really quite honored to get to do such as we did with this particular facility,” Grant said.
Dockery also thanked others who were instrumental in making the Grant Center a reality – including the architects, TLM Associates Inc., and the builders, MG Construction Co.
“We give thanks to God for the blessing today of adding to the Union University campus the Carl Grant Events Center – a facility for which we have prayed, dreamed, planned and worked for many, many months,” Dockery said. “It will be a place where we can invite the finest scholars, speakers and pundits to come to speak to issues of our day and to address the culture, to teach, to help us think together about how we as a Union University community can indeed carry forth our mission to engage the culture.”
The first event held in the Grant Center was the 10th annual Union Forum Oct. 22 with NBC correspondent Norah O’Donnell. In all, 27 events are scheduled to take place in the new facility before Thanksgiving.