General Authority Released Following Disciplinary Action

Contributed By Marianne Holman Prescott, Church News staff writer

  • 8 August 2017

After disciplinary action by the Church’s top leaders, James J. Hamula, who had been serving as a General Authority Seventy, was released and excommunicated on August 8.

“This morning, James J. Hamula was released as a General Authority Seventy of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, following Church disciplinary action by the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles,” said Eric Hawkins, Church spokesman.

A General Authority Seventy since April 5, 2008, Hamula served in many capacities over the past nine years. His excommunication was not taken because of disillusionment or apostasy, according to Church public affairs.

James J. Hamula

The disciplinary council for a senior Church leader consists of members of the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. Although the removal and excommunication of Church leadership is rare, the Church holds the most senior leaders to the same standards of conduct—if not more so—as all other members of the Church.

An article on the Church’s Mormon Newsroom website explains: “All Church discipline is carried out in complete confidence. Church leaders have a solemn responsibility to keep confidential all information they receive in confessions and interviews. To protect that confidence, the Church will not discuss the proceedings of a disciplinary council.”

The article also states that in rare cases “the decision of a disciplinary council may be shared publicly to prevent others from being harmed through misinformation.”

Elder M. Russell Ballard shared in a 1990 Ensign article titled “A Chance to Start Over: Church Disciplinary Councils and the Restoration of Blessings” that part of the Lord’s plan includes guidance on overcoming serious error and sin.

“Members sometimes ask why Church disciplinary councils are held,” he said. “The purpose is threefold: to save the soul of the transgressor, to protect the innocent, and to safeguard the Church’s purity, integrity, and good name.”

Elder Ballard taught that Church disciplinary councils are held out of “love and concern, with the salvation and blessing of the transgressor being the foremost consideration.”

He taught that the action is “not intended to be the end of the process; rather, it is a way to reach out in love and is designed to be the beginning of an opportunity to return to full fellowship and to the full blessings of the Church. … The desired result is that the person will make whatever changes are necessary to return fully and completely to be able to receive the marvelous blessings of the Church,” he said.