This week in Church history

25 years ago

Falling ash following the eruption of Mount St. Helens on Sunday morning, May 18, 1980, forced cancelation of Church meetings as far away as Spokane, more than 300 miles to the northwest, according to the May 24, 1980, Church News.

The article stated: " 'A major inconvenience' is the way Spokane Washington Stake Pres. Mark R. Bickley described the rain of ash that followed the eruption of Mount St. Helens. . . .

"In a telephone interview with the Church News while the ash was still settling over Spokane, Pres. Bickley said he was in a Church meeting when the fallout began. All meetings for the rest of the day were canceled, primarily because of the extremely hazardous driving conditions."

A Church News article in the following issue quoted President E. Crawford Jones, president of the Moses Lake Washington Stake about halfway between the volcano and Spokane, saying: "I went out at 2 o'clock that Sunday afternoon. It was so dark I couldn't see my hands or feet. With a flashlight, I could barely make out the ground below me. I think the members here can really relate to how the Nephites must have felt when they went through a day, a night and a day of darkness. If we had not had the communications of today, I'm sure we would have been pretty afraid, not knowing what was happening."

With falling ash cutting visibility and piling up to several inches deep, members of the Church generally fared well in the emergency by using their food storage.

"Members throughout the affected areas have reached out to help their fellow ward members and non-member neighbors," the article stated. "The Pullman Ward, Pullman Washington Stake, provides one example. Charles Davis, assistant in the priests quorum, called Bishop Robert B. Wilson, and arranged for help to be given to the ward's widows and single women who needed help clearing the ash from around their homes. Volunteers also turned out in large numbers to help clean up around LDS meetinghouses in the fallout areas."

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