Bishop James E. McKnight, Jr. was born in Gainesville, Florida to Bishop James E. and Sister Jessie McKnight. As a young boy, he was always serious about the work of the Lord by integrating preaching, praying and teaching into his normal childhood routines. At the age of 18, he committed his life to Christ and served in various capacities including youth minister, deacon, musician, choir  president and   Sunday school teacher at his local church. In 1985, Bishop McKnight received his call into ministry and later was led to plant a church in Starke, Fl. With a clear vision, strong faith, determination and God’s help, he founded Starke Church of God by Faith in March 1987. He   studied business administration at Santa Fe College and received his license as an ordained elder of Church of God by Faith, Inc. in December of 1991. 
Bishop McKnight is the president and founder of Bradford County Faith  Community Center, a faith-based organization that serves North Central  Florida by providing a recovery program, prison outreach, food distribution and a family literacy program. His dedication and ministry in the COGBF was recognized by the leadership of the church and as a result, he was recommended as a candidate for ruling  elder.  In December of 2003, he was selected by the National Church at-large and became a member of the  Executive Board. On December 20, 2014, he was elected and appointed by the Executive Council as the Presiding Bishop of the Churches of God by Faith.  Bishop McKnight has been married to his childhood sweetheart, Delois Turner McKnight since 1978 and they have three children: Candace (Nick), James III (Kendra) and Devin (Lashay) and two grands Laila and Devin, Jr.