JACKSON, Tenn. – Sept. 2, 2004 – The Union University tradition of freshman move-in day is concluded each year with an evening worship service for freshmen and parents. The time of worship, prayer and dedication readies new students to commence college life as their parents return home.
Todd Brady, minister to the university, delivered the message titled “Life’s Most Important Questions.” According to Brady, in the four years – or more – spent in college, the average student will answer about 6,400 questions, but “life is not so much about knowing the right answers as about knowing what the right questions are,” he said.
Basing his message in Colossians 1:9-12, Brady told students the most important questions are, “What should I know?”, “Why should I live?” and “How should I live?”
Brady said that at this early time many incoming students are undecided about their major, but faculty at Union are “more interested that you know God than what your major is.” He told the students that before their arrival each had been prayed for – by name – by faculty, staff and student leadership.
Seven years ago, President David S. Dockery added another tradition with the prayer of dedication that concludes the worship service on the evening of each move-in day. Following Brady’s message, all new students gathered in the center of the chapel and were circled by parents, faculty, staff and upperclassmen. Dockery led each group to pray for the time the students would spend at Union.
Natalie Newberry, a freshman from Cordova and member of Bellevue Baptist Church, said the prayers of faculty and staff gave her confidence and left her, “feeling as though my parents were placing me in the arms of someone who was going to care for me,” she said. “Saying goodbye was sweet and sad but exciting.”
After beginning classes on Sept. 1, Newberry reflected on the effect the dedication time had in preparing her for life in the academic and spiritual environment of Union.
“It gave me a mindset that this campus was not only going to better my academic world but better my spiritual world in an incredible way,” she said. “I did not expect to be strengthened in the Lord as much as I have been in the past five days that I’ve been here.”