“Power in Their Pages,” Ensign, Jan. 1996, 65
Many Church members are familiar with the Church’s magazines: Friend (for children), New Era (for youth), Ensign (for adults), and the Church’s international magazines (the latter, unified for children, youth, and adults, are published throughout the world in English and twenty-two additional languages). Yet many readers may not know that of these the Friend, New Era, and Ensign were begun by the Church only twenty-five years ago! Prior to that, there was a different set of Church periodicals—magazines published by the Church auxiliaries.
But beginning in January 1971, the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles established periodicals that were to represent the priesthood leadership of the Church and would print First Presidency messages and general conference reports and would continue to publish editorial materials to increase faith and testimony. These periodicals also were to keep members up-to-date on Church policies, emphases, and happenings.
How has all this worked out for members as they have used the “new” Church publications? You might find it of interest to compare your or your family’s use of the Church’s monthly visitors to your home with that of the following individuals and families. How many of the following ideas reflect what you do also?
“Every parent looks for bedtime stories, something to read to bond with your children. We are constantly reading stories from the Friend. We treat it like it was food. We just eat it up! It’s a bedtime tradition for our younger kids.”
“To tell you the truth, it’s one of our great family home evening savers. We turn to it and find a story that fits a concern we’ve been having or a teaching we want to get into everybody’s head. Then we just read the story together and talk about it. Great stress-free home evenings.”
“I wish my life weren’t so busy, but it is. Yet I find little five-minute openings all the time that I give to my children. You want to know what has really worked well for me? Sometimes I turn to the Friend and find those cute dot-to-dot games or little puzzles or any of those fun games they have there. I do one with my child. We hug and talk for a minute, and the next day when I only have a few minutes, I open it up again and do another game with her. It’s a wonderful way to have sweet feelings together.”
“Awesome Mormonads! Who thinks them up, anyway? They’re great! I tear them out, put ‘em on my walls. When I get bored with one, there’s always another one to put up there.”
“Has anyone found the way to make home evenings work with teens? Well, we’ve found one way. Several home evenings each month that’s all we do—turn to the New Era, find an article on a problem we’ve got or on a gospel principle we need to talk about, and then we read it and talk about it. It’s a real good way for us to teach.”
“[The New Era] lets me see I’m not alone in my thoughts. You know, about school, relationships with my parents, girls and stuff like that, like the Church and a mission. You get ideas to help your thoughts on those things. It’s good to have it around. It is! It’s good stuff.”
“Is there anything more important the Church publishes than those conference issues? I can’t say we read all the talks, but I’ll tell you—we want to know what the First Presidency says, and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. We look at the topics of the other talks, and when it fits us we study them. We’ll talk about them—as a couple and family. It’s been a great thing for us, keeping our thinking and our attitudes straight. It’s like the intellectual world we want to live in.”
“Maybe we shouldn’t confess how easy family home evening is for us, but half or more of them come from the “Mormon Journals.” Either my husband or I turn to the “Mormon Journal,” read one of those wonderful experiences, and then we just read it and talk about what it means to us, about the circumstance that came up in someone else’s life and how the gospel helped that person. It always branches out into something someone needs to talk about.”
“One of the most impressive things to me, something that is a genuine help, is the Church’s efforts to take up the real issues people have, the issues of our day, topics our colleagues and associates ask us about. They are things we want to know about anyway. It seems like every month or so there is an article helping you sort through an important issue. You know, to clarify gray areas of thinking. From personal issues to social issues, I really appreciate the Church’s courage to take up problems in a spiritual context. It’s something we’ve not always done in the Church like we do today, but it’s so important now.”
(Translated report:) “The First Presidency message—it is our home teaching message, our family home evening message, it is our guide. Every month we want to know what they are going to tell us. When you learn what it means to have prophets to guide you, then I tell you, it is very important in your life. Muy importante!”
(Translated report:) “Sometimes I need to be cheered up. It never fails that when I sit down and start to read [the Church magazine], I discover that I have read three or four articles, and I am enlightened and I believe again, and I know that God is there and that we are doing right. I love those brothers and sisters all over the world. I want to be like them, and I know they love us, too.”
(Translated report:) “I think that unless you live away from Salt Lake City, you don’t know how important [the Church magazine] is, but our neighbors, our friends, they don’t know much about the Church. They might think the Church is unusual or they might have prejudiced ideas. But when they visit us and see the beautiful Church magazine in our home, when they look at it and see how professional it is, and see the articles and the photographs and the art, they get a new respect for us. When they look at an article and even read something, something changes. They see we are an intelligent and good people. They see the Church is not a small thing, even though we are small in our city. We always show [the Church magazine] to our neighbors and friends to help them change their minds about us.”
Use of Church magazines as reported by these members from around the world could not better reflect what the Brethren had in mind when they directed the formation of the “new” Church magazines in 1971, nor better reflect the purposes behind the names assigned to the new magazines.
Is there any child anywhere who does not want a friend, the name selected for the children’s magazine and a natural bridge from a previous magazine published for the help of young people, the Children’s Friend?
Is not the teenage period a great era for youth, a new era for them as they acquire more experience and independence and apply gospel principles in their lives? The name was a natural bridge from a previous Church magazine, the Improvement Era, which carried a youth section called “The Era of Youth.”
The name of the Ensign is equally representative of its appointed role. Members of the Church already know that ensign is a word rich in meaning. King James Bible translators used it to mean a signal, sign, identifying symbol, standard, or banner. Thus, 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 (see Isa. 5:26; Isa. 18:3; Isa. 31:6–9; Isa. 49:22; Isa. 62:10; Zech. 9:16). In latter-day scriptures, ensign symbolizes such “standards” as the new and everlasting covenant (see D&C 45:9), the gospel of salvation (see 2 Ne. 29:1–2), the latter-day Zion (see D&C 64:41–43), and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (see D&C 115:4–6).
Generally, the Church’s international magazines use for their titles the word Liahona or a word that is a translation for star, both scriptural images suggesting how one may find his or her way.
But whether Church magazines are your personal Liahona or star, or whether they lead you into a new era or help you find a true friend, the new 25-year-old Church magazines continue to be an ensign of the Lord and of his latter-day people, seeking to bring us all unto fellowship with our Savior and his restored gospel.
Approval Process for Church Magazines
Church magazines undergo an approval process similar to that for manuals, handbooks, and other Church literature:
Concept approval is authorized by General Authority advisers, the Curriculum Department, and the Correlation Department.
Proposed actual text is then authorized by General Authority advisers, the Curriculum Department, and the Correlation Department.
Proposed visualization (design, graphics, photography, and artwork) is then authorized by General Authority advisers, the Curriculum Department, and the Correlation Department.
Ordering a Non-English Magazine
Members may order available non-English magazines by completing a Subscription Order Form (34266) and indicating in the international magazines’ order section the language they are interested in subscribing to. The order form lists some of the languages that are currently available, along with their prices. All branch and ward magazine representatives should have these forms. In addition, members may call or write to the Church distribution center that services their area.
New Era: 237,080
International magazines total: 205,266
Present Printing Locations
Friend, New Era, Ensign: Salt Lake City, USA
International magazines: Salt Lake City, USA; Mexico City, Mexico; Guatemala City, Guatemala; Lima, Peru; Santiago, Chile; São Paulo, Brazil; Papeete, Tahiti; Auckland, New Zealand; Manila, Philippines; Jakarta, Indonesia; Bangkok, Thailand; Taipei, Taiwan; Tokyo, Japan; Seoul, Korea; Friedrichsdorf, Germany; Lynge, Denmark; Torcy, France
Monthly First Presidency and visiting teaching messages