Celebrating 125 Years

CMIC 125 Years logo

Church Mutual Insurance Company, S.I. has been Protecting the Greater Good since 1897. Our founders believed in the power of faith and the spirit of their congregations and communities. Today, we continue to follow their footsteps as we provide protection to purpose-driven organizations of all kinds that serve and inspire others. Throughout its long history, Church Mutual ® has found effective ways to respond to change without compromising its core belief that the customer is the company and all decisions should reflect this.

The Church Mutual story started in Merrill, Wisconsin, in 1897, when a group of community leaders founded the Wisconsin Church Mutual Fire Insurance Association. With a single employee, the first office was opened humbly above a drugstore on Merrill’s Main Street. To better meet the small but growing demand for church insurance, the office moved to a new building in Merrill in 1901.

With three employees, the company moved in 1927 to a new office where it would remain through three expansions over the next 50 years, as both the number of customers and the employees dedicated to serving them steadily grew.

As the company was now serving customers outside Wisconsin and provided more than fire insurance, the decision was made in 1952 to convert “Wisconsin Church Mutual Fire Insurance Company” to “Church Mutual Insurance Company.” Our first sales representative was hired in 1954, beginning the personal service from a local representative that customers all over the country now enjoy.

Church Mutual moved in 1977 into a newly constructed office building that remains the company’s Merrill headquarters today. As the number of employees needed to serve customers grew, the building tripled in size over two additions in 1987 and 2004.

Sales exceeded the half-billion-dollar mark for the first time in 2004, putting Church Mutual in the top 10% of all property and casualty insurance companies in the United States. Assets passed the $1 billion mark in 2006, and sales were a record $575 million.

In 2014, plans began for further diversification to serve purpose-driven organizations beyond the religious market. With the acquisition of CM Regent Insurance Company ® and CM Regent Solutions ® in 2016, Church Mutual expanded into the public education market. That same year, the launch of CM Vantage™ Specialty Insurance Company, a newly formed excess and surplus lines company, helped Church Mutual better serve policyholders. Also in 2016, the establishment of CM CARES ® , the Church Mutual Insurance Company Foundation, allowed the company to focus its giving and make a bigger impact than ever before.

Church Mutual introduced new innovations to protect its customers with the CM Sensor ® program in 2016 and the CM Wildfire Solutions™ program in 2018. Bringing new conveniences to customers, CM Select ® was launched in 2018 as the first insurer to offer online access to a product created specifically for smaller churches and other organizations.

Despite an unprecedented year in world events in 2020, Church Mutual eclipsed the $1 billion mark in policy premium for the first time in company history. To ensure our strength well into the future, Church Mutual converted to a stock insurer that is wholly owned by Church Mutual Holding Company, Inc. As a result, Church Mutual’s new operating name became Church Mutual Insurance Company, S.I.

We kicked off our milestone 125th anniversary in 2022 by sponsoring a PBS documentary, “Secrets of Sacred Architecture,” which examines the architecture of American churches, synagogues, mosques and temples – including a few of our customers.

As Church Mutual celebrated our 125th anniversary, we reached out to our customers, thanking them for being part of our history, our present and our future. We produced a short video that highlights our growth from humble roots to the company we are today. We unearthed photos and artifacts from the company’s history and even had the very first Church Mutual annual report from 1898 translated from German, the native language of our founders, into English .

While celebrating our history, we also made history with the opening of our downtown Milwaukee office. The 10,000-square-foot space can accommodate up to 50 employees and provides an opportunity for Church Mutual to become a more meaningful and involved contributor in diverse education, social and economic efforts in southeast Wisconsin.

Shortly after opening, we hosted representatives of diverse Milwaukee-area Chambers of Commerce to announce our Inspire Milwaukee initiative that provides support to various organizations including MKE Fellows, UW Milwaukee Lubar School of Business, Marquette University’s Civic Dialogue program and Cristo Rey Jesuit High School. During an open house in October, we dedicated the Dr. George Koonce Innovation Center in honor of our ambassador of education and former Green Bay Packers player, Dr. George Koonce. Dr. Koonce is a board member of CM Regent Insurance Company.

2022 was also a year of celebrating the return of in-person collaboration and camaraderie. After more than two years working in a virtual environment, we welcomed our employees back into the offices and to the reshaped reality of a hybrid work model. The company picnic and gatherings of colleagues at all our offices brought us together, including many who had been hired during the pandemic.

In keeping with our anniversary theme, “Deeply Rooted,” we reaffirmed our ties to the Merrill community. We invited Merrill’s mayor to visit with our senior leadership and hosted a meeting of the Merrill Area Chamber of Commerce. We were honored to receive a Legacy Award from the Merrill Chamber, recognizing Church Mutual for 125 years as a cornerstone business in Merrill.

Looking to our future, we brought a new claims system online and modernized other areas of our operation for greater efficiency, setting us on the right path for another 125 years of success.