Breathing new life into Epiphany

The Rev. Jayne Ruiz stands next to a pinata that will be used as part of an Epiphany celebration on Sunday, Jan. 7, at Westminster Presbyterian Church, 1275 S.W. Boswell. (Phil Anderson/The Capital-Journal)

While Epiphany has long been on the Christian liturgical calendar in early January, it hasn’t always been embraced by Protestant churches.


That is beginning to change in some denominations, and the new pastor of a Topeka church is doing her part to introduce her congregation to the celebration.

Westminster Presbyterian Church, 1275 S.W. Boswell, will have an Epiphany celebration that will begin during its 10:25 a.m. service on Sunday, Jan. 7, and continue with a program afterward that will feature a distinctive Hispanic flair.

The Rev. Jayne Ruiz, who came to the Westminster church about seven months ago from El Paso, Texas, said she had celebrated Epiphany at other congregations she has served.

When she came to Westminster Presbyterian Church in Topeka, she found the congregation hadn’t celebrated Epiphany in a big way. So she is helping introduce them to Epiphany in a whole new way this Sunday.

While there are many traditions associated with Epiphany, Ruiz said she was most familiar those that were embraced by Hispanic Christians, with whom she worked at previous locations in the southern United States.

Epiphany — which also is known as Three Kings’ Day in some areas of the world — celebrates the visit of the wise men to the baby Jesus.

The wise men, also known as the Magi, came from the East to see Jesus, according to the second chapter of Matthew’s gospel, bringing with them gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.

“We don’t know that there were really three kings,” Ruiz said. “We just guess there were, because they had three gifts.”

Epiphany also commemorates the baptism of Jesus by John the Baptist. Jesus was about 30 years old at the time.

Ruiz said she focuses her ministry on “inclusive Christianity” and said that was a major message of Epiphany.

“The reason I like it is because it’s a celebration of when the Magi came to Jesus,” Ruiz said earlier this week. “And the Magi were foreigners. So it basically said that Christianity was not just for people of Jewish heritage. Jesus was for the whole world. That’s what I loved about it.”

Sunday’s worship service will have an Epiphany theme, complete with special music, before the congregation moves downstairs for a celebration in the church’s fellowship hall.

Special refreshments will be served, and activities and games — including a pinata — will be available for children.

Church members say they are excited about the Epiphany service and celebration on Sunday.

“We’ve never done much for Epiphany, so this is new to us,” said church member Charlie Bates, who dropped into the church office Thursday morning with a couple of pounds of candy for the pinata. “I think it’s a great idea.”


Contact Phil Anderson at (785) 295-1195 or follow live reports @Philreports on Twitter. Like him on Facebook at