Love Thy Neighbor: Da Vinci School Offers Space for Church Displaced by Tornado

Since the October EF3 tornado barreled down Walnut Hill Lane, destroying homes, schools, and churches, the First Mexican Baptist Church has been a bit nomadic.

Photos courtesy First Mexican Baptist Church Dallas

The church was heavily damaged and considered a total loss after the tornado, and its members have been moving from various locations, including Highland Park Presbyterian Church, Park Cities Baptist Church, and Royal Haven Baptist Church.

The answer came in February, some 100 days later, when the city of Dallas, the Da Vinci School, and the church collaborated to provide a more semi-permanent space, thanks to the school’s recent purchase of the former John Calvin Presbyterian Church property at Midway Road and Royal Lane.

The city of Dallas and council member Jennifer Staubach Gates had been working hard to help the church find a longer-term solution and made the connection with the school. The move-in process has taken several weeks.

While working to restore their building, the church’s 200 members, 60 of whom are children, will be using da Vinci’s property – the sanctuary, office space and a portion of the fellowship hall at the former church during the next 12 months.

The congregation’s first gathering was Sunday, March 1, after which services will be held on Wednesday evenings and Sunday mornings.

“We are overjoyed for the opportunity to share with our neighbors in their time of need. Over the next few months, we will be planning the best ways to use the property we have purchased to further our early childhood educational mission. For now, there is no better use than to help our neighbors,” said Mary Ann Greene, founder and director of the school.

“The winds of that tornado are still lingering but we have not been alone. Our God has opened the hearts of many churches, organizations, individuals and the Dallas Baptist Association, and we are grateful,” Ricardo Brambila, M.Div., head pastor of First Mexican Baptist Church Dallas, said. “We are grateful for The da Vinci School for allowing us to use their land and facility to come back to our beloved community.

“We are grateful of Highland Presbyterian Church for supporting us in this transition, and Park Cities Baptist Church and Royal Haven Baptist Church for hosting our services since the tornado,”

The da Vinci School is a non-profit, science-based pre-school, founded 33 years ago. The school built the current campus in 2010 and purchased the adjacent former property of John Calvin Presbyterian Church in 2018.

Bethany Erickson

Bethany Erickson, deputy editor at People Newspapers, cut her teeth on community journalism, starting in Arkansas. Recently, she's taken home a few awards for her writing, including a Gold award for Best Series at the 2018 National Association of Real Estate Editors journalism awards, a 2018 Hugh Aynesworth Award for Editorial Opinion from the Dallas Press Club, and a 2019 award from NAREE for a piece linking Medicaid expansion with housing insecurity. She doesn't like lima beans, black licorice or the word synergy. You can reach her at bethany.erickson@peoplenewspapers.com.

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