JACKSON, Tenn. – March 3, 2010 – Union University President David S. Dockery presented Jerry Rankin, president of the International Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention, with the university’s M.E. Dodd Denominational Service Award March 2 on the Union campus.
Rankin, who is retiring July 31 after 17 years at the IMB’s helm, was the featured speaker for the West Tennessee Pastors Conference, held in Union’s Carl Grant Events Center.
The Dodd Award is the highest denominational service award Union gives. It is named for the man who was a Union alumnus, served as president of the SBC and who was the father of today’s Cooperative Program, the method by which Southern Baptists pool their resources to fund their mission efforts.
The award is given annually to a leader within the SBC who displays excellence and leadership in Southern Baptist life, as well as friendship and commitment to Union University. Past recipients include Jimmy Draper (2004), Adrian Rogers (2005), Morris Chapman (2006), Frank Page (2007), Thom Rainer (2008) and R. Albert Mohler Jr. (2009). Union trustees select the award’s recipient each year.
In presenting the award to Rankin, Dockery thanked him for his “17 years of outstanding leadership” at the IMB.
“Union University has a special relationship with the International Mission Board,” Dockery said, citing the number of IMB missionaries who live at Union every year while on stateside assignment and the number of Union faculty and students who work with IMB personnel on international mission trips each year.
“And over the last 12 years, Union University has sent more graduates on to serve with the International Mission Board than any other Baptist college in the country,” Dockery said. “We have a great desire to continue the relationship with the IMB, but at this time of transition, we wanted to pause and say a special word of thanks to the one who has enhanced that relationship for us in recent years.”
Rankin said after accepting the award that if a university does not prepare its students to relate to the world internationally, its program is not relevant to the future.
“I don’t know anyone that is doing a better job and is more focused on our contemporary world and preparing students for the future -- whatever their discipline and their vocational track -- with a heart for missions and sharing the gospel,” Rankin said of Union University. “We’re grateful for that partnership.”