The First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced on August 14, 2020, that effective January 2021 the Church would replace its four current magazines with three global magazines: the Friend (for children 3–11), For the Strength of Youth (for youth 12–18), and the Liahona (for adults).
The length and format of the new printed magazines will undergo changes. For example, print pages for adult English readers will be reduced while members who read languages that currently have translations in only one print magazine per year will now be able to receive a print magazine every other month. Several factors—such as the number of subscribers, availability of translators, and distribution capability—affect the frequency of publication in different languages.
- “Church magazines are a valuable resource for learning about the gospel of Jesus Christ and feeling a sense of belonging in His Church,” the First Presidency said in a letter to all Latter-day Saints. “Our desire is that members everywhere will subscribe and welcome this faith-sustaining influence into their hearts and homes.”
- These global magazines will help share more unified messages across a wider group of readers. This simplification will also allow the Church to send content to different areas of the world more frequently than ever before. For example, some languages that currently receive only one magazine per year will now receive magazines every other month. Several factors—such as the number of subscribers, availability of translators, and distribution capability—affect the frequency of publication in different languages.
History of the Ensign
In 1971, leaders of the Church thought it would be wise to consolidate the magazines it published and create one magazine for all of its adult members. This new magazine was called The Ensign of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints or simply the Ensign. The magazine was printed with ten regular issues and two issues that contained General Conference addresses. Leaders of the Church expressed that the Ensign is the link between Church headquarters and its adult members and should help in strengthening the faith of the members, set forth gospel truths, and keep members up to date on Church policies, programs, and events.
The word "ensign" is rich in meaning. The King James Bible translators used it to mean a signal, sign, identifying symbol, standard, or banner. Hence, we read the biblical prophecy that in the last days the Lord would "set up an ensign for the nations" (Isa. 11:12), a standard to which Israel and the righteous of all nations might gather in preparation for the Millennium. In latter-day scriptures, ensign symbolizes such standards as the new and everlasting covenant (Doctrine & Covenants 45:9), the gospel of salvation (Doctrine & Covenants 49:8–9; 2 Nephi 29:2), the latter-day Zion (Doctrine & Covenants 64:41–43), and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Doctrine & Covenants 115:4–6).
The magazine contained a monthly First Presidency message, used in Home Teaching; a monthly Relief Society Visiting Teaching message; articles on scripture and doctrine, plus the experiences and testimonies of members and leaders; and provided supportive articles for individuals, couples, parents, and local Church leaders and teachers. Since 1976 the editor for the Ensign had always been a General Authority. This is because it is official curriculum of the Church and as such needed to be reviewed by a General Authority.