JACKSON, Tenn. – Dec. 20, 2004 – Enduring unsought and unwelcome circumstances in life – like Joseph did in Egypt – is one of the keys to success in life, Barry Black told a group of Union University graduates at their commencement service Dec. 18 at West Jackson Baptist Church.
Black, the 62nd chaplain of the U.S. Senate, told how a wrongfully-imprisoned Joseph rose to a position of prominence in Egypt because he remained faithful despite his circumstances.
“There are redemptive possibilities in your setbacks if you will persevere,” Black said. “Instead of throwing in the towel, when the storms of life rage, cry out with the poet, ‘I wanna let go, but I won’t let go.’”
Black delivered the commencement address to a record group of 275 graduates. That is the largest number of graduates since Union began the fall graduation in 1997. Last December, 242 students graduated from Union.
In addition to endurance, Black told graduates they needed to be disciplined and obedient if they were to live fruitful lives.
“Whenever you deviate from strict integrity, you are playing spiritual Russian Roulette,” Black said. “One act of disobedience can abort your destiny.”
As part of the graduation ceremony, Union University president David Dockery presented the Robert E. Craig Service Award to Jim Moss, president and chief executive officer of West Tennessee Healthcare in Jackson.
The Craig Service Award is named after the university’s 13th president, who led the university for more than two decades and was responsible for reestablishing Union with the churches of the Tennessee Baptist Convention. Craig was also responsible for relocating the university campus to north Jackson.
“Every nonprofit volunteer agency across the city of Jackson and many businesses have been influenced by Mr. Jim Moss,” Dockery said. “He is a great friend to Union University. Not only has he led West Tennessee Healthcare to support Union University in general, but the nursing school in particular. Each nursing student who graduates today has benefited from the generosity of West Tennessee Healthcare.”
University trustees and faculty also presented Black with an honorary doctor of divinity degree.
Due to worsening weather conditions, the Jackson campus will close at 3:30 p.m. today.
Evening classes at Germantown are canceled for tonight.
The wellness center will close at 8 p.m. Wednesday, and evening swim has been canceled in the aquatic center.