Thursday, February 07, 2008

Update on Union

The following are emails sent this week from Union University's Greg Thornbury and David Dockery:

Dear Friends:

To everyone who has thought of us, remembered us in prayer, or beseeched God on our behalf to spare the the lives of about 1,200 who were physically on campus last night, I want to thank you from the depths of my heart.

If you have been following the Union story through national news media outlets, you know that our campus sustained somewhere in the range of $50 million worth of damage yesterday. To get a sense of what we're going through, please do me the favor and take the time to check out the following slideshow.

More information can be found at & at

I arrived on campus with President Dockery as the tornado hit the ground last evening. One minute later, we felt transported into a scene from the London Blitzkrieg. Streams of students with bloody faces and limbs streamed past us as we walked toward the mountain of rubble that was once Watters Commons. 9 boys were trapped beneath the rubble. All of them made it out, by the grace of God. I spent least evening until 4 a.m. in the Trauma unit in my role as Campus Pastor as one by one they were brought in, and we prayed for mercy for them and their families.

All will, according to their doctors, and the Lord willing, recover normally.

Last night we had 86 injuries, 51 hospitalizations, and 7 in ICU. At the end of this evening we only have 3 still in the hospital.

The media coverage of the Union story has been amazing. Today, Good Morning America, CNN, Foxnews, MSNBC, and etc. have been interviewing David Dockery and our students today. These folks in the media have walked away saying that something is indeed very different about this university and these young people. I have been overwhelmed by their faithfulness and boldness.

Please do continue to pray for us.


* * *

Dear parents and friends of Union University:

At 7 p.m. on Tuesday evening, the Union University campus was devastated by serious tornadic activity, resulting in extensive damage to the facilities. Following a nearly five-hour emergency effort, all students — including the 13 who were trapped in the fallen rubble — were rescued. Fifty-one students were taken to the hospital, nine of whom suffered serious injury. By God’s providence, no lives were lost. Seventeen buildings received some kind of damage.

Approximately 40 percent of the dorms were destroyed, and another 40 percent were severely damaged. Additional damage has been observed in other academic and administrative buildings. The damage from this storm exceeds the impact of the 2002 tornado by 15-fold. Classes will not begin again before Feb. 18. We encourage all Union friends to stay in touch with us through the Union Web site at

We currently are working on a five-fold strategy:

1. Today is a day of assessment.
2. Initial efforts to help students return to their homes or to a safe place also have started today and will continue throughout the week.
3. A major clean-up project will start on Thursday.
4. An intermediate strategy to help us begin classes on Feb. 18 is underway.
5. Plans to regroup and rebuild the campus will help focus us for the future.

The rebuilding efforts will be lengthy and extensive. At this time, we want to thank everyone who has given help, provided service and offered ongoing prayer on behalf of Union University. We thank God for His providential care. With the help of God, we will move forward together. Finally, I want to offer highest commendations for our students and the Student Life Team, who have handled this challenge in amazing ways.

For your friendship, your support and your ongoing prayers for Union, we are most grateful.


David S. Dockery
Union University