LDS Church phasing out Ensign, its 50-year-old magazine, for new global publications

After almost 50 years as a staple in Latter-day Saint households, Ensign magazine is being replaced.

The governing First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced Friday that it is ending its four current magazines, including Ensign and New Era, replacing them with three global publications, starting in January.

Ensign, an English-language publication that features articles for adult readers, will be phased out in favor of a new magazine, called the Liahona. That title previously had been used for an all-ages magazine the church had been publishing in many languages for its international members.

A new magazine for global readers between ages 3 and 11, the Friend, will replace an English-only children’s publication, also called the Friend. And a new magazine for readers between 12 and 18, For the Strength of Youth, will replace the church’s English-only teen magazine, New Era.

According to the announcement, the changes will mean Latter-day Saints “will receive the same unifying messages through the worldwide magazines.” Also, content will be shared more frequently in some areas and languages, and families outside of English-speaking countries will be able to subscribe to magazines specifically for younger readers.

“Church magazines are a valuable resource for learning about the gospel of Jesus Christ and feeling a sense of belonging in his church,” the three-member First Presidency said in a letter to members. “Our desire is that members everywhere will subscribe and welcome this faith-sustaining influence into their hearts and homes.”

Subscriptions for Ensign, New Era and the Friend will automatically roll over to the print editions of the new magazines come January. Subscribers of the old Liahona magazine who wish to receive print content for the two young people’s magazines will need to start new subscriptions to the Friend and For the Strength of Youth.

The three new titles also will produce digital content, available online and through mobile apps. The digital content is available for free.

President Joy D. Jones, who oversees the children’s Primary, said in a news release that “we are thrilled that the new global Friend magazine will now reach children in 47 languages around the world, inviting them to follow Jesus together and to serve as he did.”

President Bonnie H. Cordon, who guides the Young Women organization, is pleased to see the New Era now become a global For the Strength of Youth magazine.

“I love the name ... because the youth of the Church of Jesus Christ are strong,” Cordon said in the release. “...They will find answers to their questions. The truth of their divinity as sons and daughters of loving Heavenly Parents will be renewed.”

The Ensign, New Era and the original Friend all started monthly publication in January 1971, each replacing previous church publications. The old version of Liahona has been published since April 1995 and before that existed as Tambuli, starting in 1977.

The Encyclopedia of Mormonism, published in 1992, called the Ensign “the publication link between church headquarters and its adult members and friends, serving as a general-interest magazine, house organ and instructional guide.”