HONORING FLORIDA'S MOST IMPACTFUL AND INFLUENTIAL MEN.
MAN OF THE YEAR
FATHER NELSON PINDER, SR.
ST. JOHN THE BAPTIST EPISCOPAL CHURCH
The Reverend Canon Nelson Warden Pinder was born in 1932 in Miami. He grew up in the Liberty City neighborhood of Miami and was baptized and confirmed in the Historic St. Agnes Episcopal Church. After serving in the Army in the Korean War, he earned a bachelor’s degree in Philosophy from Bethune-Cookman College. He later earned a master’s degree in Education from Florida A&M University. Inspired by the work of young Episcopal priests working in urban ministries, he received a call to the gospel and decided to attend Nashotah House Seminary in Wisconsin. In 1959, he was called to Orlando and began his service as the first full-time priest of color at The Episcopal Church of St. John the Baptist. During the 1960s, he became known as the “Street Priest,” the "hoodlum's priest”, community leader, a caring person, a loving person, and your "priest and friend", all the while organizing and participating in sit-ins and protests which helped to advance civil rights in the city of Orlando. In 1969, he was installed as a Canon, and was assigned to The Awareness Center, where he served for three years.
On January 9, 2010, he was honored at a special service held at the Cathedral of St. Luke, celebrating the fiftieth anniversary of his ordination to the Priesthood. In 2015, the Orange County. In September 2015, the Historical Society of Central Florida presented him with its 2015 Donald A. Cheney Award, which honors community leaders who embody dedication to our heritage and to civic engagement. Recently, he was keynote speaker at the City of Ocoee’s Martin Luther King celebration where he was recognized as an “Orlando civil rights pioneer.”
Father Pinder has been married for more than fifty years to the former Marian Grant, of Jacksonville, Florida. Father and Mrs. Pinder are the parents of two children, Gail (deceased) and Nelson, II (Janet), and the proud grandparents of five.