In a letter sent to stake members on August 19th, the Spokane Washington Stake Presidency has invited stake members to pray and fast for rain and relief from the wildfires and smoke, for aid to the firefighters and other emergency responders, and for comfort to those who are directly impacted by these terrible disasters.
Additionally, due to hazardous air quality, public meetings for wards in the Spokane Stake have been cancelled for Sunday, August 20, 2023.
The letter can be viewed below.
August 19, 2023
Dear Stake Members,
As you know, Spokane County has been severely impacted by explosive wildfires, including two major fires that erupted on Friday, August 18th, to include the Gray Fire in Medical Lake, and the Oregon Road Fire in Elk. Today, the Spokane County Board of Commissioners declared a state of emergency in furtherance of responding to this significant natural disaster.
The Gray Fire in Medical Lake has been particularly devastating and impactful. Many of us have immediate connections with the Spokane West Stake, including family, friends, and business associates. On Friday afternoon we immediately reached out to President Brady Bates of the West Stake and offered our assistance. We learned of immediate needs and issued a call for assistance via your ward leaders. Many of you heeded the call, rapidly gathering supplies and effort to enable the Spokane Stake Center (1620 E 29th Ave) to operate as an emergency shelter. Many of you have fulfilled assignments for overnight and daytime shifts during the emergency shelter operations. In coordination with the American Red Cross, we asked for your help in preparing the Havana and Regal meetinghouses to be ready as contingency shelters. We thank you for your service, performed as followers of Jesus Christ, and in keeping with your covenants to “comfort those who stand in need of comfort,” and to “lift up the hands which hang down.” (Mosiah 18:9, Hebrews 12:12)
As of 5pm on Saturday, August 19th, the wildfires are far from being contained. Additionally, smoke from these local fires, combined with smoke from major wildfires from other parts of the Pacific Northwest, have inundated the metro area, resulting in air quality conditions that are, and are expected to be, hazardous for at least the next 24 hours. Meanwhile, the Red Cross has encouraged us to maintain the Stake Center as an emergency shelter, due to the continued uncertainty with the Gray Fire. In prayerful consideration of these extenuating circumstances, we provide the following direction and guidance:
- All in-person public meetings for Sunday, August 20th, for the Spokane Stake and its wards, are hereby canceled.
- The administration of the Sacrament by worthy priesthood holder(s) is authorized within the stake boundaries in homes of its members for this Sunday.
- Each bishop has been instructed to organize a virtual devotional with members of their ward to augment home-based Sacrament services and Come Follow Me study.
- Sunday, August 20th, will be a special day of fasting and prayer for the Spokane Stake. We invite all members to take time to pray and fast for rain and relief from the wildfires and smoke, for aid to the firefighters and other emergency responders, and for comfort to those who are directly impacted by these terrible disasters.
- The Stake Center will remain available as an emergency shelter through at least 6pm on Sunday, August 20th. The stake will continue to coordinate with ward and stake leaders on assignments related to the emergency shelter operations. A determination whether to continue emergency shelter operations any later than that time will be made and announced no later than 5pm Sunday.
- Members who donated supplies for contingency emergency shelters at the Havana and Regal meetinghouses may recover their items at a convenient time, as directed by your bishop or other assigned ward leaders. We invite you to follow health advisories when going out of doors.
- We encourage you to check in on families to whom you minister, your neighbors and others in the community to console, encourage and support. As this remains a developing situation, please listen to your ward leaders for additional opportunities to serve and subsequent adjustments to ward or stake meetings and functions. Please continue to follow the guidance from civic authorities relative to emergency preparedness and response.
Brothers and Sisters, we love you and pray for you and during this time. We thank you for your demonstration of charity and service in the hour of need, exemplifying the pure love of Christ.
Spokane Stake Presidency