Listen to Geno Olison’s story: “Faith Is The Bridge” from the We Are Vineyard podcast.
Geno Olison is the leader of the Black Pastors and Leaders Association for Vineyard USA and lead pastor of the South Suburban Vineyard Church just outside of Chicago.
Geno grew up on the south side of Chicago, Illinois, where he came to faith in the Full Gospel church founded by his parents. In 1999, he moved to Urbana, Illinois to attend the University of Illinois and began attending the Vineyard Church of Central Illinois in 2001.
After graduating from the University of Illinois with a B.A. in Communications, Geno worked in the TV news business and spent several years in sales and marketing while attending and serving at the Vineyard Church of Central Illinois. Sensing a call to plant a multicultural, multi-ethnic Vineyard, Geno and his wife, Shannon, began the process of preparing to plant a church, serving in various roles and positions at church, attending trainings, and building an intentionally diverse team.
The South Suburban Vineyard Church officially landed in the south suburbs of Chicago in June 2009. Since that time, the church has become a picture of the vision given to Geno and Shannon – a beautiful, multicultural expression of a Vineyard church. He desires to help other pastors, leaders, and church communities see the value and importance of being a diverse church on mission.
Geno has served on the Vineyard USA Executive Team and has worked with teams of talented people to create the Better Together conference which focuses on race, reconciliation, and the multiethnic church. As a musician and songwriter, Geno’s worked with Vineyard Worship to develop Vineyard Soul, a multi-cultural, gospel-leaning expression of worship music in the Vineyard.
Geno’s most important role, though, is parenting his four awesome boys with his wife Shannon.
I’m most excited about the new things God is doing in our movement and the new people and structures that are being put in place. I’m encouraged by the diversity of the new National Team and how more voices and perspectives of color are being centered in ways that will allow our movement to be a more hospitable place for historically underrepresented groups.
My dream for my association is that it would be a place where black Vineyard pastors and leaders can find safety, support, and a place of understanding for the unique joys and challenges of serving in the Vineyard as men and women of color. I also look forward to the ways our voices, perspectives, experiences, gifts, and leadership will meaningfully influence the strategic direction of VUSA.
While no movement or denomination is perfect, I love the Vineyard because there is really nothing else like it. I’ve found the Vineyard to be a place where ordinary folks like me can be equipped and released to build for the Kingdom in significant ways. The Vineyard seeks to center a genuine love of God and people, the power of the Spirit, and the Kingdom message in ways that challenge people to both be transformed and to participate in the transformation of others.