to imagine the rapid heartbeat of the Rev. J. K. Hair, Pastor of Lykesland
Baptist Church, as he stood in Columbia’s historic First Baptist Church to
offer a resolution before the S.C. Baptist Convention in session on that day
of December 1923. His resolution took aim against the “heavy drain upon our
resources” brought about by insurance rates on church properties. Times were
hard, money was scarce. Many churches were strained between mortgage
payments and payments of up to $600 per year for insurance, if indeed, it
could be secured. Insurance companies did not want the risk of rural
churches that were usually secluded, had no access to a water supply, and
were unoccupied most of the time.
Rev. Hair urged the General Board to look into the possibility of starting a
mutual insurance association to protect both church and Convention property. He
was concerned that money needed for ministry and missions was being used to buy
insurance. He saw a way to help without the Convention having to spend a penny!
Rev. Hair, himself, was making history, and this is how it all began as a
company dedicated to God and His churches.
In 1924 the Messengers voted to approve a study to determine the practicality
of such a move, naming C. B. Bobo, J.M. Walker, with J. K. Hair to chair the
special committee. This committee came with a report in 1925, but it was
postponed until the 1927 Convention meeting at Park Street Baptist Church in
Columbia, where Messengers authorized the establishment of such a company to be
headquartered in Columbia. It would be a mutual company as opposed to a stock
company, which means it would be a company consisting of policyholders, in this
case churches, who pay premiums into a pool, from which claims are paid for
losses sustained by a peril for which they are insured.
February 9, 1928, there was a meeting of incorporators. An excerpt from the
minutes of that meeting read, Southern Mutual Church Insurance Company met to
organize and adopt by-laws, this 9th day of February, 1928. After prayer by W.
M. Whiteside, the meeting was called to order… And so were the humble beginnings
of this company; born in faith and much prayer.
Southside Baptist Church in Columbia was our first policyholder and is a
policyholder still today. By the end of the first year, the company had $250,000
coverage in force. There was a balance in the bank on December 21, 1929 of
$309.04. Today SMCI has more than $10 billion property coverage in force, annual
written premiums of more than $37 million, a policyholders reserve of more than
$21 million, and more than 14,000 policies across many denominations. Truly God
has been faithful! May He continue to richly bless this company as its leaders
and employees seek to continue providing savings, service, and security for His