Dynamic, significant, and prophetic, Jemar Tisby is a public historian with the ability to explore racial justice solutions and cultural conversations that compel listeners to action. Tisby brings history to bear with contemporary relevance. His style provides audiences with richly-informed explorations, unflinching moral insight, and clear paths forward.
Tisby is the founder of The Witness, Inc. He is the author of How to Fight Racism and The New York Times bestselling book, The Color of Compromise: The Truth about the Church’s Complicity in Racism. His latest book, How to Fight Racism Young Reader’s Edition: A Guide to Standing Up for Racial Justice, was published in January 2022. Jemar has been a co-host of the Pass The Mic podcast since its inception seven years ago. His writing has been featured in The Washington Post, The Atlantic, and The New York Times, among others. He is a frequent commentator on outlets such as NPR and CNN’s New Day program. He speaks nationwide on the topics of racial justice, U.S. history and Christianity.
Tisby received his PhD in History at the University of Mississippi studying race, religion, and social movements in the twentieth century.
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.
Rachel Conner is the Executive Pastor of the Sugar Land Vineyard in Stafford TX, a church has been a part of since 2001, and, along with her husband Stephen, has been an active participant in the life and activities of the local church.
She served on the Senior Pastor’s Council for both Bert and Reagan Waggoner. Her family has been upwardly mobile so she has had opportunities to teach and lead prayer initiatives in the cities she has lived in, and the churches she has served in.
Rachel retired from AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals in 2012. While at AZ, she was a member of the National Diversity Panel, and led winning teams in the therapeutic areas AstraZeneca competed in. She came out of retirement to partner with a long time friend to start a company that assisted healthcare businesses with growth, sales and technology. While working with Dimedius she completed Sustainable Faith’s School of Spiritual Direction and became a spiritual director. Unforeseen circumstances led to the closing of Dimedius after a successful three- year run where she served as President and business development lead.
Rachel is now firmly entrenched into the daily operations of the Sugar Land Vineyard, teaching, enjoying her practice as a spiritual director, working with the pastoral staff and co-directing Thrive Plus, a year- long high level discipleship course.
Rachel and Stephen love traveling, walking on the beach, and spending time with family and friends.
Charles A. Montgomery, Jr serves as the Associations Strategic Coordinator for Vineyard USA and Teaching Pastor at Vineyard Columbus.
Charles also founded a successful multiethnic Campus (Vineyard Columbus East) and has pastored there since 2012. His passion is to develop Beloved Communities as espoused by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr, an alumnus of Charles’ alma mater, Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia.
Charles has a B.A. in Mathematics from Morehouse, a Master of Divinity from Emory University (Ga) and a PhD in Ethical and Creative Leadership from Union Institute University (OH).
He has earned several credentials in Diversity Training and is a Certified Spiritual Director through the Sustainable School of Faith.
He considers his greatest accomplishment (ok, grace) being married to his childhood crush, Kimberly. Charles and Kimberly are avid Buckeye fans (Go Bucks!) and make their home in Columbus Ohio.
The Gathering is for Black pastors, leaders, and emerging leaders and is also open to non-black leaders who are actively engaged in ministry to Black people in the Vineyard.
We believe it is important for those pastoring, leading and discipling Black people to show support by accompanying their Black leaders and being willing to learn how they can make a positive impact on those they’re leading without doing harm. Non-black attendees should understand that the cultural and spiritual needs of Black people will be centered at this conference.
Attendees will experience dynamic speakers, soulful worship, helpful workshops, soul care, prayer ministry, and more!
Session 1 | 7 PM
Jay Pathak | Welcome
Geno Olison | “Rest, But Don’t Quit” (Matthew 11:28-30)
Session 2 | 9 AM
Rachel Conner | “The Souls of Black Folks” (Jeremiah 6:16)
Dr. Jemar Tisby | “Making Much of the Least” (Matthew 25:31-45)
Lunch Break | Noon – 1:15 PM
Workshops Session 1 | 1:30 – 3 PM
Workshops Session 2 | 3:15 – 4:45 PM
Dinner Break | 5 – 7 PM
Session 3 | 7 PM
Dr. Jemar Tisby | “The Color of Compromise”
**After-hours Fireside Chat (Q&A with Dr. Jemar Tisby)** | 9:30 PM
Session 4 | 9 AM
Rachel Conner | Daily Examen
Dr. Charles Montgomery, Jr. | “Made for This Moment” (Esther 4:14-16)
Lunch and Recreation | Noon – 5 PM
Soul Food Dinner (On Site) | 5 – 6:30 PM
Session 5 | 7 PM
Night of Worship, Testimonies & Extended ministry
Schedule, speakers and topics are subject to change.