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UNION PERSPECTIVE: First Things First by Tim Ellsworth

JACKSON, Tenn.June 2, 2006 – Ben Cole, one of the cogs of the young leaders' movement in the Southern Baptist Convention, in a post on his blog concluded that he will vote for Frank Page only because Ben’s first choice for SBC president – David Dockery, president of Union University – has declined on more than one occasion to be nominated for the position. Ben, however, isn’t willing to take that as a definitive answer:

"Today, I wanted to let you know that David Dockery was always my choice...and the choice of many, many across the convention who called, wrote, emailed, and visited with him during the week of May 8-12, 2006, pleading with him to stand for nomination.

"Maybe it's not too late:

"Email him and let him know that you'd support him this year, or next, if he is willing to accept the responsibility and the stewardship of so noble an office."

Allow me to respond to this on Dr. Dockery's behalf.

Dr. Dockery has been contacted in recent weeks by traditionalists, leaders of the conservative resurgence, young leaders, pastors, academics and denominational leaders, from all sectors of the SBC asking him to allow his name to be nominated for SBC president.

Dr. Dockery is deeply honored and humbled by these contacts, requests, urgings and promptings. He loves the SBC and wants what is best for it. And at some point in the future, with the support of Union trustees, faculty and staff, he might be willing to serve in that capacity. He would only entertain the idea, however, if the time were right for Union, for the SBC and for himself.

That time is not now.

Union University is one of the fastest growing private institutions in the South and one of the fastest growing Christian institutions in the country. A key reason for that growth is Union's full integration of orthodox Christian faith with the highest levels of academic inquiry. It's a path few schools have chosen, and it has led to some wonderful blessings.

Union students are accepted for graduate study at Yale, Vanderbilt, M.D. Anderson Cancer Center and many other top academic programs. These graduates go forward fully equipped to engage the culture with the biblical Christian worldview.

Dr. Dockery's stewardship of these blessings is exemplary, and Union is at a point in time when his uninterrupted focus on our academic and spiritual mission is at critical mass.

The university is in the midst of two major building projects and is in the middle of a major five-year strategic plan that includes a $110 million capital campaign.

His most pressing priorities right now are leading Union through these crucial days.

Dr. Dockery would greatly appreciate not being inundated with e-mails of support for his candidacy. While he is grateful for the sentiment, his decision on this matter is resolute. He will not be a candidate for SBC president.

Instead, Dr. Dockery will be fully supportive of Dr. Ronnie Floyd, Dr. Jerry Sutton or Dr. Page, whomever Southern Baptists in Greensboro elect to the SBC presidency.

By Tim Ellsworth
Director of News and Media Relations

Media contact: Tim Ellsworth, news@uu.edu, 731-661-5215

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