Mennonite Mutual Aid

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1957 Article

Mennonite Mutual Aid, Inc., was incorporated in 1945 as an Indiana nonprofit corporation sponsored by the Mennonite General Conference (MC) to provide a means within the church for its members to carry out the historic Mennonite practice of sharing financial burdens and providing loan aid to those in need of assistance. The first project was assisting in the rehabilitation of returning Civilian Public Service men. At present loan aid is given to any member, provided satisfactory local credit was not available and the applicant merited assistance. Financial counsel and vocational placement services were provided. A plan for sharing expenses of hospitalization, surgical and burial aid was carried on by a subsidiary Pennsylvania nonprofit corporation called Mennonite Aid, Inc. Another subsidiary Pennsylvania non-profit corporation called Mennonite Automobile Aid, Inc., organized to share costs of automobile collision and comprehensive expenses. Another Indiana nonprofit corporation, the Mennonite Foundation, was recognized by the Treasury Department of the United States as a depository for tax exempt funds, therefore bequests, legacies, or gifts of property to the Mennonite Foundation are deductible as provided by law. Orie O. Miller continued as president of Mennonite Mutual Aid from its beginning. C. L. Graber was secretary treasurer from its beginning to 1954 and continued as its treasurer. Original Board appointees, made by Mennonite General Conference, and still active members in 1957 were Guy F. Hershberger and H. A. Diener. Also Simon Gingerich and John H. Alger were original appointees but retired from active participation. Later appointees included E. C. Bender, vice-president; Harry Wenger, John D. Burkholder, J. Robert Kreider, H. Ralph Hernley, Abram P. Hallman, and Harold L. Swartzendruber, secretary. -- Harold L. Swartzendruber

1987 Update

Mennonite Mutual Aid was incorporated in 1945 as an Indiana nonprofit corporation sponsored by the Mennonite Church (MC). Its purpose was to provide a means for members, congregations, and church communities in the United States to carry out the historic Anabaptist and New Testament practice of stewardship of material and financial resources, and to share in times of crisis and hardship.

The original Mennonite Mutual Aid board, September 1950. L-R: John I Yoder, Harry Diener, Simon Gingerich, Orie O. Miller, Aaron Herr (staff), Chris L. Graber (standing), Guy F. Hershberger. Scan courtesy Archives of Mennonite Church USA-Goshen. Archives of Mennonite Church USA-Goshen. C. L. Graber collection, Hist. Mss. 4-125, Box 5/5a

In the two decades following 1945 additional corporations were formed to accomplish the purpose of mutual aid and stewardship ministries. In 1967 these corporations were consolidated under one board. In 1988 MMA consisted of eight corporations.

Mennonite Mutual Aid, Inc. (1945), administered salaries and office services for 210 employees and coordinated the administration of other MMA entities. <strong>Mennonite <em>Foundation</em></strong> (1952) was a tax exempt stewardship service agency. <strong><em>Mennonite Automobile Aid</em></strong>, organized in 1954, provided comprehensive and collision coverage, and avoids lawsuits. Approximately 25,000 vehicles were enrolled in 1987. Mennonite Church Buildings (1956) formerly provided investment opportunities and financing for institutions and congregations. This program was being phased out. MCB was the tax exempt corporate entity that held title to MMA buildings and equipment. Menno Insurance Service (1957) enabled MMA to broker insurance products to members and church institutions. This included employee benefit management, casualty, and property products. Approximately 2,500 policies were in force in 1987. Mennonite Retirement Trust a tax exempt corporation formed in 1963, provided pension plans for church workers and employees of church institutions. There were approximately 4,500 participants. Mennonite Mutual Aid Association was a tax exempt fraternal benefit society organized in 1965. It provided health insurance, life insurance, and retirement annuities. Fraternal benefits provided beyond-contract assistance and grants to members and participating churches. Educational programs included wellness, health ethics, safe driving, stewardship, and mutual aid. In 1987 there were approximately 53,500 adult participants in health plans, 6,400 persons covered by life insurance, and 3,800 annuity certificates. Share-Net Insurance, Inc. (1987), provided group health, life, and disability insurance plans for congregations, institutions, and businesses.

These eight corporations, known as Mennonite Mutual Aid (MMA) were governed by a 17-person board appointed or elected by Mennonite Church (10 members); General Conference Mennonite Church (5 members); and Mennonite Brethren (2 members). The board appointed a president who was responsible for administration through vice presidents appropriate to meet the needs of the organization.

MMA is inter-Mennonite in its board and membership. It is also a program board of the Mennonite Church (Mennonite Church USA), with a formal relationship to the Mennonite Church USA General Board. MMA is also accountable to the broader Anabaptist constituency through its inter-Mennonite board and through its members.

The Mennonite Mutual Aid Association states that "Mennonite and related Anabaptists" qualify for membership. It serves the broad spectrum of Mennonites, Brethren in Christ, the Church of the Brethren, and others whose roots and history grow out of the Anabaptist and Believers' Church movements.

In the mid-1980s MMA decentralized its distribution activities, working with regional advisory committees and placing representatives in many church communities. The network of congregational representatives was given new focus in an effort to promote mutual aid in local communities and in congregations. MMA cooperated with other mutual aid organizations of the Associated Mennonite Aid Societies (AMAS) so that congregations could use the rich resources of organized societies to meet needs in the congregation.

Sharing was published quarterly for members. It was a popular interest way for members to share their experiences in giving and receiving help in times of unusual need. Tool Kit was a simple two-page leaflet, published bimonthly. It offered information and advice for building health, safety, and lifestyle (health education).

The combined assets managed by MMA on behalf of institutions and members in 1987 were $175 million (US). This included gift investment accounts of the Mennonite Foundation, life insurance, Mennonite Retirement Trust, Annuity programs, and reserves for the various health plans. -- Laban Peachey


Mennonite Church Yearbook contains statistical, organizational, and personnel information biennially.

Mennonite Historical Bulletin (July 1978).

Sharing 14, no. 2 (Summer 1980): 21, no. 4 (Winter 1987).

Additional Information

Website: Mennonite Mutual Aid

Author(s) Harold L. Swartzendruber
Laban Peachey
Date Published 1987

Cite This Article

MLA style

Swartzendruber, Harold L. and Laban Peachey. "Mennonite Mutual Aid." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1987. Web. 19 Jun 2018.

APA style

Swartzendruber, Harold L. and Laban Peachey. (1987). Mennonite Mutual Aid. Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 19 June 2018, from


Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 3, p. 632; vol. 5, pp. 572-573. All rights reserved.

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