Honoring our deep roots

We’re deeply rooted to our customers, who serve and inspire others.
We’re deeply rooted to the communities where we live and do business.
We’re deeply rooted to our purpose of protecting the greater good and elevating the human condition.

Explore our history on the timeline below, which features key moments in our story thus far.

The Early Years


Our Founding

Realizing that smaller, less prosperous churches were in need of financial help in the event of a fire, a group of progressive-minded community leaders in Merrill, WI establishes the Wisconsin Church Mutual Fire Insurance Association.

Sprechen sie Deutsch? The first annual report of the Wisconsin Church Mutual Fire Insurance Association is published in German in 1898.

Fun fact: German was the prominent native language of settlers in Central Wisconsin, especially those of Lutheran faith.


First President

With eyes toward future growth, Church Mutual decides to appoint official leadership. H.R. Fehland becomes the organization’s first president, followed by G.F. Koehler in 1907 and Reverend Herman Daib in 1912.


At the Office

W.H. Dicke — the company’s first and only employee for many years — captures the birth of an industry with a self-portrait in the original Church Mutual office, located above a drug store in downtown Merrill. Dicke served as Executive Secretary and Treasurer for about 48 years until he retired in 1945 (by that time, Church Mutual had 43 employees).

Fun fact: During his first year with the company, Dicke's salary was $290.


Room to Grow

The Church Mutual team grows to serve an expanding customer base. The team moves to a larger office, where they’ll stay through three expansions over the next 50 years.

Fun fact: When Church Mutual moved into the new building in 1927, the company had three employees. In 1977, when Church Mutual moved to its present Home Office building, the employee count had grown to more than 100. The 1927 building is now home to Merrill City Hall,


Low Rates for Customers

Would this ad get your attention? Here, Church Mutual promotes rates that are 40% lower than those customers might find elsewhere.

A sales card from 1933. “Be Wise — Mutualize” is the company tagline. Church Mutual used a number of taglines over the years before arriving at the current “Protecting the Greater Good,” which symbolizes its service to customers who make the world a better place.

Fun fact: Many companies adjust their tagline over time, while others stick with one that’s tried-and-true. Some of the longest-standing taglines in the U.S. are Maxwell House’s “Good to the last drop” (established in 1917) and De Beers’ “A diamond is forever” (coined in 1947).


A Focus on Convenience

A staunch focus on customer convenience drives a revised sales process and renewal system, courtesy of a man named Walter Schuster. Schuster was hired as office manager in 1945 and served as Church Mutual’s first full-time working president from 1951-1971.

Mid-to-Late Century


A New Name Reflects Expanded Services

“Wisconsin Church Mutual Fire Insurance Company” becomes “Church Mutual Insurance Company” as the organization serves customers outside of Wisconsin and offers more than fire insurance. Two years later, the company established Church Mutual Agency, Inc. to provide insurance solutions to customers outside the religious market.

The use of cash has steadily declined, but these coin sorters kept Church Mutual customers organized in the ‘60s.

Fun fact: Did you know — pennies were silver for one year! During 1943, there was a copper shortage, so pennies were created from zinc-coated steel.


New Construction

Having outgrown its space in Merrill’s downtown, Church Mutual moves into a newly constructed office building on the northeast side of Merrill. Ten years later, the headquarters doubled in size with its first addition to the building.

Roadside billboard featuring the Church Mutual logo at the time (circa 1970s). This logo was used until 1997.

Fun fact: Before the '90s, most billboards were hand-painted on large wooden boards. Printed posters only became the norm during the '90s, and digital billboards didn’t emerge until the early 2000s.


Celebrating 100 Years

100 years after humbly opening above a drugstore on Merrill's Main Street, Church Mutual celebrates an incredible milestone: a century of serving its customers! Dieter Nickel, who led Church Mutual as president and CEO from 1971-2000, speaks during the 1997 celebration.

The New Millennium


Reflecting on Growth

As Church Mutual welcomes the 21st century, the team celebrates serving over 70,000 religious institutions with customized coverage solutions. To best serve customers, Church Mutual has grown to over 400 employees at the Home Office and nearly 250 in 40 offices across the country.


Additional Expansion

Joined by local and national dignitaries, President and CEO Gerald Whitburn cuts the ribbon to officially open a third wing of the Merrill Home Office building. Whitburn led the company from 2000-2009 and was succeeded by Michael Ravn from 2009-2014.


Expanding into Dual Distribution

President and CEO Mike Ravn pioneers expanding Church Mutual’s sales distribution to include broker partners, helping to diversify the company’s policyholder profile.


A Commitment to Diversity and Inclusion

Under the leadership of President and CEO Rich Poirier, Church Mutual hires its first Diversity and Inclusion officer, deepening its commitment to a journey that continues through key sponsorships and championing equity in the communities where it does business.

Fun fact: A 2021 survey found that 76 percent of employees and job seekers said a diverse workforce was important when evaluating companies and job offers.


Evolving to Protect the Greater Good

Continuing to focus on elevating the human condition to the best of its ability, Church Mutual expands into the school market, develops more solutions for specialty coverages, establishes a foundation, creates “smart sensors” to protect against water damage, and creates safety resources and programs for customers and the general public. (Check out some of our popular safety tools: Armed Intruder Preparedness, Cybersecurity, and Volunteer Safety and Management — or view them all!)


Online Solutions for Smaller Organizations

Bringing new conveniences to customers, Church Mutual launches CM Select: the first insurer to offer online access to a product created specifically for smaller churches and nonprofit and human service organizations.


Support During Unprecedented Times

Despite a challenging year in world events, Church Mutual continues to thrive. Its foundation, CM CARES, donates more than $1 million to 744 organizations, including $500,000 earmarked to the CM CARES COVID-19 Recovery Fund.

Fun fact: Foundation giving in the U.S. topped $88 billion in 2020 — a 19% increase from 2019.


Committing to Religious Institutions & Beyond

The company maintains profitable growth through further diversification and expansion in the nonprofit and human services, camps and conference centers, and senior living markets, while remaining committed to its position as the nation’s leading insurer of religious institutions.


Celebrating 125 Years

Church Mutual celebrates 125 years of exceptional service! A commitment to protecting the greater good and elevating the human condition continues to drive Church Mutual’s work within communities around the country.