When Elder James J. Hamula was called to the First Quorum
of the Seventy, it wasn't the first time he had been called to full-time
Church service. Of course, he had served as a missionary as a young man and
as President of the Washington,DC Mission from 1994 to 1997. But even as a
young Bishop in Arizona he had given a level of service that gives new
meaning to the phrase, "full-time."
He explained in an interview with the Church News.
Shortly after his call to be a bishop, his growing stake, which only had one
meetinghouse, planned to build three more.
In that era, he said, members were expected to donate
money for their new buildings. His stake president realized that would be
asking the members for a lot of money and instead worked out a
sub-contracting arrangement with the general contractor so that members'
labor could be their contribution.
Elder Hamula said he asked the stake president, "When
are we going to do that." He and the other members had families, jobs
and Church callings already demanding their time.
Elder Hamula recalled that the stake president answered
with a question: "What are you doing at 3 o'clock in the morning?"
"So for two years, much of my work as a bishop was
spent getting the priesthood organized to go to the Church building sites at
3 in the morning. We would work from 3 to 6."
After about a year, he said some members of the ward
council decided it would be better to pay the money.
"So I went to the stake president and said, 'Our ward
has been talking. We think we can come up with the money.' The president
looked at me across his table and said, 'Bishop, the Lord doesn't need your
money, he needs your time.'
"I learned a very important lesson at that moment: I
had consecrated to give my time and my all to the work of the Church; that
was more important than writing a check. I also learned at that moment which
way I should be facing as a leader. It was my job to face the people and tell
them what the Lord wanted, not to face the other way, with the people behind
me, telling the leaders ahead of me what the people wanted."
Those principles were a valuable blessing from that time
as Elder Hamula sucessively served as a stake president, mission president
and Area Seventy.
Another blessing Elder Hamula and his wife, Joyce, were
grateful for was the firm faith of their forebears.
His Hungarian grandparents immigrated to the United States
in the early 20th Century seeking greater economic and religious freedom,
Elder Hamula said. His grandfather, Ambrose Hamula, was actually sold into
servitude in Hungary at age 12. After a time chained to a workbench, he
escaped and made his way to America.
Elder Hamula's father, Joseph, was born and raised in a
Hungarian-speaking suburb of Cleveland, Ohio. After serving in the military
during the Korean Conflict and ending up in Southern California, he found the
Church there. President Howard W. Hunter was his
stake president and called him on a mission. Elder Hamula said his father's
serving in the Swiss-Austrian Mission grounded him in the gospel.
Sister Hamula's parents,
Henry and DeAnne Anderson, were converted when she was a young girl. Her
mother had health problems and was confined to a wheelchair.
A year later, the family was sealed in the temple. Elder
Hamula told the story of his wife's mother being taken into the temple on
that day in her wheelchair, but experiencing a healing while there that
enabled her to walk out. Sister Hamula said that the temple experience that
day "was the first time I remember seeing my mother walk."
When Sister Hamula's father died a few years later, her
mother was still struggling with her health and was told by doctors she would
do better in a mountain or desert environment than in San Jose. Their bishop,
Richard Hunter, set up a meeting for Sister Anderson with his father, Elder
Howard W. Hunter, then a member of the Quorum of the Twelve, who had already
impacted the life of Elder Hamula through his father. Elder Hunter counseled
Sister Anderson to take her family and move to Arizona.
"That's why Joyce was there by the time I got
there," Elder Hamula said.
While in law school at BYU, he had the opportunity to work
as a law clerk in the Phoenix area one summer. "I had this impression
that I was going to Arizona because that was where I would meet my
wife," he said.
He went to a dance at the institute adjacent to Arizona
State University and met Joyce Anderson. The next day, they were in a Sunday School
class together. Elder Hamula said he decided he would try to get her phone
number. After Church, he was on his way to ask her when a friend interrupted
"I told him, 'You just caused me to lose a
date,"' Elder Hamula said. The friend asked why. "I told him, and
he said, 'I know who she is and here is her phone number.' I called her the
A year later they were married. The marriage was blessed
with six children: Jerilyn, Jordan, Jennifer, Julie, Jared and Joseph. Elder
Hamula's chosen profession was law and after finishing law school at BYU,
they returned to live in Arizona where he got a job at a law firm.
From thence, it was a succession of callings and work each
bringing greater responsibility. He became a shareholder in his law firm and
served as Bishop, Stake President, Mission President, and Area Seventy before
being called to the First Quorum of the Seventy on April5, 2008.
Elder Hamula was released from
the First Quorum of the Seventy and excommunicated following church
action by the First Presidency and Quorum of
the Twelve Apostles, August
8, 2017. The
church confirmed that this action
was not taken because of
disillusionment or apostasy.
"All church discipline is
carried out in complete confidence," according to an article on the
church's official Mormon Newsroom website. "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."