Church of the Epiphany celebrates 50 years
When the Church of the Epiphany held its first service on Jan. 6, 1963, it was at a storefront downtown, with very little beyond that area.
Fifty years later, the Episcopal church has grown to more than 250 members with a building all its own and a history that stands up to some of the other older churches Cape Coral has.
According to Jeff Jarabek, pastor of the church for 35 years, the church got its start like so many of the others in the city, at a makeshift storefront at the Quirk Arcade on Cape Coral Parkway.
“Thirty people attended that service. They could barely fit into that storefront, and the Rev. Lloyd Cox drove from Okeechobee to do the service with a carful of prayer books and a dozen folding chairs,” Jarabek said.
The church got its name from the first parishioners who attended the first service on the day of the Feast of the Epiphany, who chose to name the church accordingly.
They also decided that first service at the arcade was also the last.
The city told them they had space at the Yacht Club, which was where they went for the next 18months.
“The only time available was 7:30 a.m. because the Catholics and another denomination had services there as well,” Jarabek said.
In October 1963, the members bought five acres of land on the corner of Del Prado and Everest Parkway for the purpose of building a place of its own, which it did in May of the following year.
In1986, the growing church built its current facility, using funds gained from selling a piece of its property (which is now an office building) nearest the corner. The congregation contributed about a quarter of the cost, Jarabek said.
The church is currently led by the Rev. Ryan Wright, the fifth leader in the church’s history.
The Rev. John McGinnis Jr. was the longest servicing rector, who led the church for 25 years.
McGinnis came to the church as its vicar in 1976 and under his watch shepherded the congregation to parish status, becoming its first rector, which he served as until his death in November 2011.
Among he many accomplishments of the church include the founding of the Caring Center, which assists the needy.
“To this day, our parishioners continue to bring in food stuffs and canned goods to the church for use at the Cape Coral Caring Center,” Jarabek said.
From 30, the number of parishioners has grown to 256, and looks to grow even more in the coming years.
In December, the church purchased property on the south side of their building for future use as yet to be determined.
Jarabek said he has seen lots of changes in the church, and in the city as well.
And that’s where the future lies.
“A lot of young people are moving into the community, and many of them are looking for a church home, and the church is willing to accept all people looking for that,” Jarabek said. “Our mission is to build a larger presence for youth in the community.”