SALT LAKE CITY — A monthly staple of the LDS Church’s Ensign magazine for nearly a half-century, the “First Presidency Message” feature, is being discontinued.
The announcement was made in the April 2018 edition. It added that future messages from the First Presidency needing to be shared will be done through the church’s various media channels, including print magazines and online resources at LDS.org.
The magazine’s first-ever “First Presidency Message” was actually provided in multiple-media fashion when distributed in the inaugural January 1971 Ensign. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints had just revamped its stable of magazines at the start of that year, with the Ensign joined by the New Era for youths and the Friend for children.
The church’s First Presidency at the time — President Joseph Fielding Smith and his counselors, Presidents Harold B. Lee and N. Eldon Tanner — combined to each provide a portion of the January 1971 message. Besides the printed text, an audio version was provided on a flexible vinyl record that accompanied the magazine.
“This is a rare opportunity to reach members of the Church in this way,” said President Smith in prefacing his comments that would focus on strengthening the family. “It is estimated that nearly 350,000 families will receive the first issue of our new adult magazine, the Ensign, and this recorded message.”
The final “First Presidency Message” to be published in monthly fashion in the Ensign was a transcript of President Russell M. Nelson’s Jan. 14, 2018, remarks during a live broadcast from the annex of the Salt Lake Temple that announced he had been set apart as the church’s 17th president. He had requested those remarks be published in the Ensign’s April 2018 issue.
Over the years, the “First Presidency Message” ranged from uniquely composed articles from the church president or one of his counselors to an adaptation of a previous address given by one of the presidency members.
In the 47 years of its existence, the “First Presidency Message” featured the words of eight different LDS Church presidents — from Presidents Smith to Nelson — and the eight men who at one time served as First Presidency counselors from 1971 to 2017.