By Kendal Conner
February 5, 2010, marked Union University’s second anniversary of the night when an EF-4 tornado damaged much of its Jackson campus. Although anniversaries are usually spent celebrating, most Union students spent this specific anniversary worshipping and giving thanks.
With the grand opening of the Bowld Student Commons on Feb. 2, Union has seen an end to the rebuilding of its campus after the tornado. However, most students remember Feb. 5, 2008, as a night that changed more than just the buildings on campus, but their lives as well.
For some people, the changes within the community of Union students are what stand out the most.
“The juniors and seniors here have all been brought closer together,” said Graydon Mears, junior international business major.
Other students remember Feb. 5, 2008, as a night that changed their own life and perspective.
“Looking back on that night, I don’t regret anything that happened. I’m thankful for it. I think it has made me the person I am today and especially here at Union.”
Baldock’s personal story of the tornado was published, along with several others, in Tim Ellsworth‘s book, “God in the Whirlwind.” Ellsworth is Union’s director of News and Media Relations.
“I think the real point of that night, and telling our stories of that night, is to give glory to God,” Baldock said, “and so, I hope that is what mine does. The story is going to live on for years to come and I think God’s goodness on that night is what people are going to remember.”
Baldock is only one of numerous Union students who gives thanks for the tornado and credits it as being a life-changing event.
Kathryn Lamar, senior biology and music double major, said, “I am so thankful for the tornado. I realize how materialistic I was. It was a huge blessing that the Lord took away all that stuff.”
Along with Lamar seeing a personal change in her life, she said she can also see a big change in the Union community as a whole.
“I feel like we’ve definitely changed,” Lamar said. “Even seeing my friends and my roommates, and how we were displaced, and we made different friends because of that.”
Matt Morse, senior Christian studies, was one of 18 Union students who spent the night of the tornado in the prayer chapel located in the Barefoot Student Union Building.
“I have been able to use the story of the tornado as a testimony because I think it shows God’s sovereign grace and mercy to us,“ Morse said. “I think we can all say that if this is what it takes for someone to know Christ, let it happen everyday.”
For most students, the memory of the tornado is a positive one and has impacted their lives in some way. But with two years having passed since the event, the number of people who experienced the tornado first hand has become fewer and many fear the impact of the storm has too.
Ericka King, junior political science major, said, “I think that there is a bit of an impression left on the two classes behind us, but as it goes on, I think the impact is going to lessen because it is hard to understand something if you haven’t gone through it.”
Although many of Union’s current students did not directly experience the tornado, they say they understand the blessing of the new campus and because of that, the Union community came together at 7:02 on Feb. 5, 2010, to commemorate what the Lord has done throughout the campus.
“I think it is a part of moving on,” Baldock said, “I will always remember it as something extraordinary that happened in my life but I think that it is time that you can move on. You don’t have to set apart just one night to remember, but you can be thankful for being here everyday.”