News from the Big Hairy Audacious Education Caravan


Education Caravan completes 2014 tour

The Education Caravan concluded its 2014 tour in Lincoln, Nebraska, at Saint Paul UMC, on Oct. 2, with about 115 in attendance. The grand total for attendance at all six events is close to 700 people. The Lincoln program, which was also webcast, is recorded and available for viewing.  Common discussions centered on the realization that there is so much poverty in the midst of our small towns and cities. Guest presenters offered many ways churches are already involved with back pack programs, afterschool programs, school supply and clothing closets and even a prayer partner system. The prayer partner system at Table Rock and Humbolt UMCs enables students to sign up and be anonymously matched with a church member for prayer support.

The video recordings (Topeka and Lincoln presentations) are intended to help congregations who could not attend one the caravan events hear the presentations, including church partnership examples and the message from Bishop Jones.

Mini-grants still available

The first round of mini-grant recipients will be announced soon. The second round of applications is due Oct. 31. The mini-grants offer matching dollars for continuing or initiating a sustainable partnership with a local school or district. The application is available online.

How-to video available at a discount – save $50

Engaging Local Schools is an ecumenical resource with videos, presentations and supplemental materials designed for both self-study and use with groups. It is available through the Lewis Center for $75. Order the discounted DVD/CD resource though the conference for only $25. You can also preview a set by contacting Diane Dunkerson at the Great Plains Resource center at (one week preview).

Photo: Dr. Marilyn Moore, former Lincoln Public School administrator and current president of Bryan College of Health Sciences, offers poignant information about public school students – the typical make up of a Lincoln Public Schools classroom; its socio-economic mix, its diversity, its languages and our commitment to offer quality public education to all the children of all the people.

Big, Hairy, Audacious Education Caravan travels Kansas

“This is just what we needed,” said one attendee of the presentation on Tuesday, July 29, at the Garden City UMC. Garden City Superintendent Rick Atha and Bishop Scott Jones gave messages of information and concern about public education in the Garden City area while three churches – Dodge City First, Satanta and Cimarron – with already working church/school partnership models presented both verbally and in display format. Kathie Monroe also provided Safe Gatherings information in the display area.

The availability of start-up grants for education partnerships was announced. The first deadline for applications for the first round is Sept. 5. The deadline for the second round is Oct. 31. Matching grants will be awarded up to $1000 for innovative school partnerships that show potential and sustainability. Apply online.

About 100 people attended the one-hour presentation and then stayed to gather with their own congregation ‘s members and friends around pie and ice cream. The table talk included the consideration of three questions.

  1. What did you learn tonight?
  2. What does your church have to offer the schools?
  3. What will you do next?

Many of the participant groups went away with start-up ideas; armed with the new information, models of partnership and resource possibilities. The format was the same for each location.
The caravan moved on to Iola, Kansas, on Wednesday, July 28, with President John Masterson of Allen County Community College providing information about education in the area. Nearly 75 attended with church presentations from Moran UMC and Parsons Wesley UMC on partnering with high schools.
The final stop on the caravan was Topeka with USD 501 Superintendent Julie Ford giving information on the state of education in the Topeka area. Topeka First UMC, Lenexa UMC and Reading UMC presented their partnership models with Bishop Jones giving the closing remarks. The display area was well attended as was the table discussion time with pie and ice cream. About 270 attended the Topeka event. As this event was livestreamed, at least another 100 gathered across multiple locations to watch the webcast and have their own discussions.

Great Plains Education Rally in Topeka

The caravan continues in Nebraska in September.

Find more resources at

More resources for education partnerships from Lewis Center

For a limited time the Lewis Center for Church Leadership is offering a DVD/CD set ($75) at a discounted price to churches for $25, if ordered through the Great Plains Conference. A preview copy can also be ordered for a week review by contacting Diane Dunkerson at the Great Plains Resource Center at

Click here for Lewis Center for Church Leadership resources to help you serve your neighbor through local schools.

Congregational teams are encouraged to attend

The dates are set for the Big Hairy Audacious Education Caravan events in Kansas and Nebraska. Kansas events are intended to heighten awareness for public education in Kansas as the primary season is at hand. Elections in Nebraska in the fall, drove the schedule for those to take place in September and October. The key to this initiative is church involvement with the community leaders and its schools.



In support of the Education Initiative Resolution passed at the Great Plains Annual Conference Session, each caravan event will start at 6:30 with time for gathering, looking at displays and interacting. The presentation at 7 p.m. will include a local education expert, Bishop Scott Jones and members of congregations in the area who have successful partnerships. Other activities will follow with pie and ice cream.

Area congregations are asked to bring a contingent from their congregation and register their group attendance for planning purposes on the online registration form. Our goal is to have every congregation bring 6-10 people or more to a caravan event.

To help congregations promote the rallies, we produced a short, low-budget video to use on Sunday. (The video is specifically targeted at Kansas. Nebraska-specific materials will be coming soon.) Download the video at

If you can’t make an actual rally, please know that you can participate via webcast either on July 31 or Oct. 2. The webcast will be available at We will have a test stream available from 2:30-3 p.m. on Thursday, July 31, to check equipment. If you plan to a have a viewing group at your church, you will want to be sure your local internet connection can handle the bandwidth.

If you have questions regarding the webcast, contact Kathryn Witte at or 402-499-1009.

Bulletin inserts and other resources are available at

The rallies each have a Facebook event page to make it easy to invite Facebook friends and share the information.

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