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Mormon church excommunicates top leader; first such ouster in nearly 3 decades...

Mormon church excommunicates top leader; first such ouster in nearly 3 decades...

SALT LAKE TRIBUNE reports:

For the first time in nearly 30 years, the Mormon church has excommunicated one of its top leaders.

On Tuesday morning, James J. Hamula was released from his position in the First Quorum of the Seventy of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints after disciplinary action.

LDS Church spokesman Eric Hawkins provided no details about the removal. But the church did confirm Hamula was no longer a member of the church and that his ouster was not for apostasy or disillusionment.

In cases involving members of Mormonism’s presiding quorums — rare as they are — the faith’s governing First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles form a disciplinary council to consider such actions.

Hamula, 59, who could not be reached Tuesday for comment, was born in Long Beach, Calif., and served in many positions with the Utah-based church — including as a full-time missionary in the Germany Munich Mission, bishop, stake president (overseeing a number of LDS congregations), mission president and Area Seventy.

He became one of the church’s general authorities in April 2008. These full-time leaders — from the faith’s prophet at the top to its apostles and dozen of members of the First and Second Quorums of the Seventy and Presiding Bishopric — leave behind their careers and work only for the church. They receive a living allowance that the church says is the same across the board.

From 2009 to 2014, Hamula was a member of the Pacific Area Presidency, headquartered in Auckland, New Zealand, according to his LDS biography. Upon his return to church headquarters in Salt Lake City, Hamula served as assistant executive director of the Church History Department from 2014 to 2016. Before his removal, he was serving as executive director of the Correlation Department.

According to a biography on the LDS Church’s website, Hamula earned a bachelor’s degree in 1981 in political science and philosophy from church-owned Brigham Young University in Provo, where he graduated magna cum laude. Four years later, he received a master’s in political philosophy and a law degree from BYU.

He worked as an attorney until his assignment to full-time church service, the bio states.

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