The Heart of First Dallas

By First Dallas Staff

When Alyssa Sivess moved to Dallas in 2006, First Baptist Dallas became more than a church—it became her career, family, and community. A year after she began attending, Alyssa met her husband, Bryant, in the Singles Ministry. Their family grew to include their four children: Liam, Logan, Lorelei, and Lennox. 

Over the years, the Sivess family maintained deep roots at First Dallas. Alyssa emphasizes, “Anytime we can be at the church, we are usually there.” They developed deep connections through Sunday School, children’s programming, volunteering, and Alyssa being on staff. Now, she works as a teacher at First Baptist Academy, which she said “gave [her] the opportunity to be a mom and work.” The Sivess family lives and breathes for a church community founded on faith in Christ.

However, during a trip to Chicago to visit Alyssa’s sister-in-law, her faith was tested. While there, one of their first activities was to attend the Fourth of July parade in Highland Park, Illinois. Alyssa says, “We were sitting behind the grandstand of the parade at the beginning.” Suddenly, they heard what they thought were fireworks going off, but as the crowd erupted, she realized they were gunshots. During the chaos, Alyssa found herself separated from her oldest son. She and the rest of her little children sought refuge behind a pillar as bullets flew nearby.

“The shooter got 80 rounds out,” she says. “We were literally catty-corner from him, and my mom and husband were in his line of fire,” she continues. After the shooting stopped, Bryant was searching for Liam and came across an 8-year-old boy who was shot. Bryant observed the young boy, Cooper, who was blue and not breathing. After being asked to look at him, Bryant started chest compressions until a man identifying himself as a doctor came to help. Because of his act of bravery, Cooper survived. 

While this happened, the rest of Alyssa’s family reconnected and hid in a jewelry store. She said, “I contacted my mother-in-law, who started a prayer chain that consisted of people from the church and Baylor during this time.” Despite the fear and uncertainty, she was comforted and reassured by the outpouring of support from their church family, even hundreds of miles away.

Alyssa realized after everything in Chicago, “All the right people were in all the right places.” She knew He was with her even amidst the chaos. Alyssa said, “I got hundreds of texts from the church and school who worried about us, heard about us, and ensured we were all okay. The rest of our trip was covered in prayers.” On her first day back at church, Pam Brewer, the Director of the Women’s Ministry, spotted her across the street, walked over, and told Alyssa, “I need to hug you now.”

Moments like these show you how precious life is and how powerful the church is. God’s great design for a church community brings all these gifts, talents, and people into one place filled with believers and support. “As a mom of four, I don’t get to go many places by myself, yet I have a big desire to be with women in fellowship,” says Alyssa. She is thankful to participate in her Sunday School ladies’ prayer night and looks forward to attending the First Dallas Women’s Conference on April 12–13. As a former volunteer for the conference, she loves the opportunity to be filled spiritually and describes the weekend as a time when “[she gets] to be Alyssa and not just a mom.” 

Alyssa remains grateful for a church community that has been with her through every season—celebrating joys, comforting sorrows, and providing a place to simply be herself. Alyssa is a perfect example of the spirit of resilience, hope, and love that defines the essence of First Dallas.

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