JACKSON, Tenn. – Dec. 9, 2003– Union University trustees voted unanimously Dec. 5 to establish the Union University M.E. Dodd Denominational Service Award. The annual award will be presented to a Southern Baptist for service and leadership in behalf of Tennessee Baptists and the Southern Baptist Convention.
The award is named in honor of one of Union's most distinguished alumni -- M.E. Dodd. Dodd is recognized as the father of the SBC's Cooperative Program. Noted evangelist Billy Graham once said that Dodd was "one of the greats, not only to Southern Baptists, but to the church at large during the last generation."
Dodd, a Union University graduate, was the longtime pastor of First Baptist Church Shreveport, La. He also served as president of the SBC and president of the SBC pastor's conference.
University president David S. Dockery said the institution created the award to honor Southern Baptists who are committed to the Cooperative Program.
"M.E. Dodd is often linked to the founding and shaping of the Cooperative Program in the Southern Baptist Convention and this award is a way that Union University can encourage faithfulness to and cooperation among Tennessee Baptists as well as among the broader Southern Baptist Convention in days ahead," Dockery said.
The inaugural award will be presented in 2004, Dockery said.
Morris H. Chapman, president and chief executive officer of the SBC Executive Committee, commended Dockery and the university for the new award.
"Union University once again is demonstrating its unfettered loyalty to the Southern Baptist Convention," Chapman said. Union University, under the leadership of its outstanding president, Dr. David Dockery, has wholeheartedly embraced the convention and is dedicated to teaching biblical principles that prepare the students for living a dynamic witness for Christ.
"The spirit of Christ is pervasive on campus, whether the student is in class, engaged in sports, or enjoying a break with fellow students. Being on campus is always a privilege and a blessing. To do so is to experience first-hand the Christian maturity lived out in the lives of the administration, faculty, support staff, and students."
In his 1930 book, Missions Our Mission, Dodd called on Southern Baptists to embrace the Cooperative Program. "The Cooperative Program is our obligation in perpetual effort to meet opportunity," Dodd wrote. "It is Christian desire constantly directed to the discharge of duty. It is power persistently and purposefully promoted to produce prosperity for Christ's causes. The Cooperative Program is the soundest, safest, surest, most successful, most scriptural method ever found for carrying out Christ's will for the whole lost world."
Union's graduates, trustees and leaders have made significant contributions to the SBC including R.G. Lee, Wayne Dehoney, J.D. Grey, James Sullivan, George Savage, and John J. Hurt.
According to the International Mission Board, 75 Unionites are currently serving on the mission field. The total number of active and inactive missionaries with ties to Union is 238.
"Whether coming to the campus with strong biblical beliefs or little knowledge about God and His Word, each student has the exciting opportunity to live in an environment that honors our Lord Jesus Christ and accentuates the Christian character so critical to living a lifetime for Jesus," Chapman said. "The Southern Baptist Convention and its Executive Committee are profoundly grateful to the Lord for Union University and its continuing affirmation of a long and lasting relationship with the Convention."
Nominations for the award can be sent to Union University's Office of Church Relations, 1050 Union University Drive, Jackson, TN 38305.