Hearing the announcement over the pulpit about the new training initiatives for safeguarding Latter-day Saint youth from predatory leaders made me grateful for the work of former members of the church who were forced to sacrifice their membership in order to bring about these changes.

Without the advocacy of people like Sam Young, I don’t think our church would be experiencing these positive changes. As a group of people, we benefit from the sacrifices of the bold who voice opposition to some of the problematic aspects of our church. Members who would never participate in this opposition still benefit from the advocacy of those the church has officially banished.

We have also seen recent changes on women’s issues in the temple, and the baptizing of gay people’s children due to these heroes. While they are unsung within the walls of our meetinghouses, I would like to make my voice heard in expressing my gratitude for them.

Sam Young’s excommunication letter reads, “The issue is not that you have concerns, or even that you disagree with the church’s guidelines. Rather it is your persistent, aggressive effort to persuade others to your point of view by repeatedly and deliberately attacking and publicly opposing the church and its leaders.”

He was not excommunicated for wishing these things were changed, but for publicizing them and forcing the church to respond. These tactics tend to eventually work, but not without major consequences for the people seen as the leaders of the movement. And I am thankful for these people who put it all on the line to change my church for the better.

It is part of our collective history to grow and change as a living church, still in the process of being restored to perfection, and I’m glad these people have accelerated this process.

Alexander Nielsen, Provo