From Farm Table to Agency: Celebrating 135 Years of MAA

2020 is a landmark year for Mutual Aid Agency, marking our 135th anniversary. In light of such a significant milestone, we’d like to take a look back—and a look forward—at MAA through the years.

Mutual Aid Agency began as the Mutual Aid Society of Northeastern Kansas. Born out of a desire to care for one another during times of loss and hardship, it was created in 1885 by nine men who dreamed of a faith-based insurance company founded on Brethren principles and values. Lending a hand and sharing each other’s burdens was MAA’s cornerstone.

For nearly a century, MAA carried out this work from various kitchen tables, moving from home to home, changing hands with each president. Brethren gathered together in the face of every loss, building back houses and barns when lost to fire or storm. But as more members moved out of the country and into urban areas, the act of barn raising became more and more impractical, and MAA had to find new ways to serve the Church.

MAA began to expand its coverage, offering service to small businesses, rental properties, and even suburban housing. By the 70’s, it was clear that farmhouse tables could no longer contain all the paperwork, and MAA opened its office doors in Buckeye, Kansas. Fifty years and two expansions later, today’s agents still work out of that same building.

But a 135-year legacy can’t be reduced to a brick-and-mortar building. Instead, it’s made up of dozens of smaller milestones met along the way.
In 1913—decades ahead of its time—the MAA’s board welcomed its first female board member. Nearly a century later, our first female general manager, Jean Hendricks, was hired. In 2018, Kim Rutter joined the ranks of MAA women as our current General Manager.

The 90’s brought the establishment of the Brethren Mutual Aid Share Fund, which gave us a new avenue in which to honor our commitment to lifting others up in times of crisis. In 2008, MAA reached another milestone when we transitioned from a company to an agency, serving as an intermediary for our clients.

This year, in celebration of our 135 years of service, we marked the occasion by announcing our new name: Mutual Aid Agency. This change will undoubtedly be part of our legacy in the years to come.

What do the next 135 years hold for MAA? Our goal remains the same: To serve others as a vessel for mutual aid, uniting together to support one another in crises. We hope to do so in an even greater capacity than we do today, becoming the go-to insurance provider for Church of the Brethren congregations and members over the coming months and years.

MAA has come a long way since its humble beginnings, but its most important qualities remain the same: our heritage, faith values, and commitment to serving the Brethren community. Our story far transcends simple business transactions, encompassing a concern for the welfare of Brethren everywhere.

Yesterday, today, and tomorrow, MAA is—and always will be—devoted to sharing one another’s burdens.