From The Encyclopedia of Mormonism
Author: Todd, Jay M.
Since 1971 the full title of the official monthly magazine for the English-speaking adult members of the Church is The Ensign of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Printed in ten regular issues and two General Conference issues (May and November), the Ensign is the publication link between Church headquarters and its adult members and friends, serving as a general-interest magazine, house organ, and instructional guide. It replaced the Improvement Era, Instructor, and the Relief Society Magazine in serving members of the Church eighteen years and older.
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 (Isa. 5:26;18:3;31:6-9;49:22;62:10; Zech. 9:16). In latter-day scriptures, "ensign" symbolizes such "standards" as the new and everlasting covenant (D&C 45:9), the gospel of salvation (D&C 49:8-9; 2 Ne. 29:2), the latter-day Zion (D&C 64:41-43), and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (D&C 115:4-6).
The Ensign magazine proposes to strengthen the faith of members of the Church, to promulgate gospel truths, and to keep members abreast of Church policies, programs, and happenings. In addition to publishing the conference issues, it provides a monthly First Presidency message, used also in home teaching; a monthly Relief Society visiting teaching message; articles on scripture, doctrine, and member experiences and testimonies; and support articles for individuals, couples, parents, and local Church leaders and teachers.
Circulation in 1971 was 300,000; in 1990 it was 615,000, nearly a 4 percent annual gain, reflecting Church growth trends. All its editors since Doyle L. Green (1971-1976) have been General Authorities: Dean L. Larsen (1976-1978), James E. Faust (1978-1979), M. Russell Ballard (1979-1984), Carlos E. Asay (1984-1986), Joseph B. Wirthlin (1986), Hugh W. Pinnock (1987-1989), and Rex D. Pinegar (1989-). Jay M. Todd has been the managing editor since 1972.
Editorial. Ensign 1 (Jan. 1971):97.
Green, Doyle L. "The Church and Its Magazines." Ensign 1 (Jan. 1971):12-15.
JAY M. TODD