Ex-Gang Member Turned Bishop Restoring Ken Knight Community

Ex-Gang Member Turned Bishop Restoring Ken Knight Community through Environmental, Wildlife, and Artistic Cultural Development Programs and Annual Peace Prayers

Compassion, honor, vision and a heart of gold describe Ken Knight’s Uncle Nate.  A man on a mission to redefine and revitalize the well-known community, through his 501c(3), Waterfront Outreach, Inc.  Waterfront Outreach is a Christian based organization that started in Northwest Jacksonville. Their purpose is to teach children of all walks of life with their “Artist Cultural Development Program”, while using the word of God to further educate young people through art, literature and a scouting program.

Born and raised in Northwest Jacksonville, Nathan “Uncle Nate” Thomas, an ex-gang member has been known for taking care of the community since he was a youth.  “I would cut people’s yards for free.  You know, if they were in a predicament where their grass needed it and they didn’t have anybody who could cut it for them”, says Thomas.  Nate’s community outreach continued as an adult. Nate is known for helping people pay their mortgage or repairing their houses for free.  While expressing his desire to rebuild the area and sharing his vision of a waterfront excursion, his focus is giving youth an experience like no other in their own backyard. “This is my community.  I envision children being able to come here and enjoy the water as I did as a child with my father, uncles and grandmother.  I had a great time growing up as an athlete as well, thanks to my coaches Thomas Witherspoon and Freddie Stephens.  They taught me to use my muscle to help people versus using it to hurt others.  I want to spread that same message to the youth”.

As a William M. Raines graduate, Thomas is well decorated.  Some of his honorable mentions are North Florida Cosmetology graduate, St Thomas Institute/Theologian studies, Philippian Institute of Biblical Studies, ordained Bishop, International Longshoreman Association and Prince Hall Mason, just to name a few.  Thomas gives credit for his successes to his many mentors including Dr. Z. Jackson of Philippian Institute/Biblical Studies, Bishop L.C. Callahan, Co-Pastor St Jude Missionary Baptist Church and his presiding Bishop Virgil C. Jones, Sr.

“When God told me to start the Waterfront Peacemakers Prayer, I was conflicted because I didn’t have the resources necessary.  So I went and spoke to Bishop Callahan.  As my mentor I highly respected his wisdom. He told me that if God told you to do it, just do it. That God would provide everything that I needed and to go for the big fish.  Weeks went by and I saw a guy driving and told him about the vision that God gave me and without hesitation he gave me the money I needed to pay for the t-shirts”, explained Thomas.

A true man of valor. Thomas has purpose in his heart.  This year marks the 20th Anniversary of Waterfront Peacemakers Prayer (Matt 5:9).  An annual prayer to bless and protect the area as well and the children and the families who live there.  It’s his way of giving back and uplifting his community.  This year’s theme is “A Little Light Peace Prayer”.  The event will comprise of an opening prayer, a career fair, construction training, inflatable bouncies for the children, giveaways, free food and much more. “Our goal is to give the community the resources they need to be successful.  Diversifying their experiences through workshops and seminars”.  From turkey giveaways for Thanksgiving to Christmas toy drives, Waterfront Outreach is doing some incredible things in the Ken Knight community.  Thomas’ vision of community is expansive and goes beyond the Ken Knight neighborhood.  He now counts Detroit, Seattle, Tampa, Miami, Phoenix, Myrtle Beach, Ruskin, FL, Salisbury, MD and several cities in Georgia as areas he has planted his outreach seeds.

For more information, contact Nathan Thomas at 904-444-0202 or email at waterfrontoutreachkids@gmail.com.


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