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kicked out

For the first time in decades, the Mormon church excommunicated a top leader

On Tuesday, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints excommunicated one of its high-ranking leaders, 59-year-old James J. Hamula.

This is the first time in almost 30 years that the Mormon church has ousted one of its top leaders. As a member of the LDS First Quorum of the Seventy, Hamula would travel around the world to visit with leaders, worshipers, and missionaries at different congregations. A spokesman for the church would not share with the The Salt Lake Tribune why Hamula was excommunicated, saying only that it had nothing to do with apostasy or disillusionment.

Hamula left his job as an attorney in 2008 to become a member of the church's general authority, a full-time job. A husband and father of six, he previously served as a missionary in Germany, a bishop, and a stake president, overseeing several congregations. In the LDS church, most excommunications take place at the local level, when members are found guilty of serious crimes or apostasy, but they can baptized again if they later show repentance. The last time the LDS church excommunicated a high-ranking leader was in 1989.