Rev. J.K. HairTry 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.

The 7th policy written by SMCIOn 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 $16 billion property coverage in force, annual written premiums of more than $42 million, a policyholders reserve of more than $36 million, and more than 15,000 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 churches.