Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Mutual Aid Association

Happy Birthday, Mutual Aid Association!

On April 1, 1885, members of the Northeast District in Kansas formed the Mutual Aid Association to provide property insurance protection to Brethren Farmers. From its simple Kansas beginnings, MAA has grown and flourished to be a highly recognized provider of property insurance in the 21st century. Today its headquarters are located in Abilene, KS.

Frank Ramirez, in his Tercentennial Moment for April 6, has this story behind the beginning of what we know today as Mutual Aid Association.

Mutual Aid has always been at the heart of Brethren faith and practice. If your barn burned down, a flood destroyed your home, or your crops were wiped out by a storm, your fellow Brethren took care of you. As Peter Nead, in his book Primitive Christianity, put it: "It is very evident, that if the members of the church are in love and fellowship towards one another, they will not suffer their poor brethren and sisters, if it lies in their power, to want for any of the necessities of life."

As long as most Brethren lived in the east it was still possible for mutual aid to be provided on a personal basis. But Brethren were on the move, advancing with the frontier. In Kansas and other western states this was becoming harder and harder. There simply weren't enough Brethren in the western states. Starting in 1847 Brethren began to discuss the possibility of first property insurance, and then life insurance.

For some Brethren insurance was a form of gambling that indicated a lack of faith. God and God's people would always take care of the believers.

... Brethren ... were finally able to settle the important question of insurance, giving the go-ahead to a group from Kansas. On April 1, 1885, in Osawkie, located in Jefferson County, a group of Brethren, led by Civil War hero P.R. Wrightsman, found the Brethren Mutual Aid Society of Northeast Kansas. The organization has been known by many names, but it still exists today as the Mutual Aid Association, and still insures many Brethren churches and homes.