JACKSON, Tenn. – Nov. 18, 2003 – Messengers to the Tennessee Baptist Convention publicly expressed affirmation for Union University and President David S. Dockery through applause and "Amens" as he delivered a report on the state of the university during the Nov. 11 TBC Education Report.
The report featured a message from Dockery; musical selections from Proclamation, the university's auditioned vocal ensemble; and a video presentation highlighting the university's core values.
Dockery's address noted the university's record enrollment of 2,809 students from 43 states and 30 countries. He also told messengers of Union's ranking as a top tier university in the South by U.S. News and World Report underscoring the academic quality of the TBC-affiliated institution.
Dockery thanked messengers for their support of Union through the Cooperative Program and reminded them of the Southern Baptist Convention's commitment to higher education.
"The Baptist Faith and Message (1963 and 2000) says regarding Christian education that 'the cause of education in the Kingdom of Christ is co-ordinate with the causes of missions and general benevolences and should receive along with these the liberal support of the churches,'" Dockery said. "Similarly, regarding cooperation, the BFM (1963 and 2000) says that 'Members of New Testament churches should cooperate with one another in carrying forward the missionary, educational and benevolent ministries for the extension of Christ's Kingdom.' So we say thank you! We value your support and think that is a worthy investment in the work of the Kingdom of God to do so."
Dockery also urged messengers to continue to support Union.
"Union University is committed to Christ-centered excellence in all that we do -- not just in our outstanding Christian studies department, not just in our campus ministry program, but across the board," he said. "Each year we adopt a verse for the year for the entire campus. This year that verse is Colossians 1:18b -- that in all things Christ might have the pre-eminence.
"For Christ to have the pre-eminence requires a full vision of all that it means to say Jesus Christ is Lord. This is more than a personal statement. It is more than Jesus is Lord of my life. While we want every student, every staff member, every faculty member, administrator, and trustee to confess Christ in this personal way, the larger educational enterprise requires a more all-encompassing understanding. It is to unpack all that Paul meant in Colossians 1 when he said, 'Jesus Christ is the image of the invisible God, the first born of all creation, for in Him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones, dominions, or principalities or authorities, all things were created through Him and for Him. He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together' (Col. 1:15-17)."
Dockery said to be a Christ-centered institution means believing that Jesus Christ is the Creator of all things.
"He is the sustainer of all things, for 'by Him all things hold together,'" Dockery said. "He is the goal of all things; for all things were not only created by Him, but for Him. All of history is moving toward a providential destiny that will be fulfilled in Him. He is the Redeemer of all things and Judge of all things. When all things in heaven and earth, visible and invisible, reach their final consummation, the redeeming work of the Son will be complete."
Messengers vocally affirmed Dockery as he reminded them of the Apostle Paul's writings.
"So as Paul goes on to say in Col. 1:18 -- 'Then the one who is the image of the invisible God will be pre-eminent in all things.' He is pre-eminent over kings and rulers, the centerpiece of all history -- and that means he is pre-eminent over all knowledge, all learning, all teaching, all scholarship," he said. "Jesus Christ is utterly central to all that humans can know or experience. There is nothing to which Christ is irrelevant. There is no segment of human learning in which He is not the central figure, for without Him neither we nor our students will ever make sense of this world, its history, its present, or its future.
"At Union we will seek to make it our aim, our purpose, to reach every corner of every academic discipline and every area of student life for Christ, for we acknowledge that every aspect of human life must be lived under the Lordship of Christ," Dockery promised.