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  • Letter to the Editor: SPC’s Ciaran Benson

    First, I want to thank you for your excellent write-up on what is happening at the Center.

    Awesome work.

    The PNC is really setting the bar for reporting on Pagan issues really high, and I appreciate that.

    I do want to respond to this statement:

    “The source says it unclear if the alleged possible problems with the bookkeeping are  from sloppy record keeping, mismanagement, or rise to an actionable item under Minnesota law”

    Speaking as a board member for the Sacred Paths Center who has been closely involved with these issues, I want to completely confirm and agree with this statement.  We don’t know the answer either.  That’s the reason we’ve arranged for this audit.

    We’ve talked with our attorneys and described what we’ve found to the Minnesota Council for Non-Profits and the MAP for Non-Profits center resources, and what we’re hearing from them is that our failings are very typical of non-profits of our age and size.

    I was surprised to find that they weren’t surprised by what we were telling them.  In one case the person I was working with reached into a pile of Frequently Asked Questions From Board Members and handed me a sheet that basically listed everything I’d just told her.  Apparently, we’re very mainstream in our failures.

    That’s not to belittle our failings – we really missed some obvious things that we should have been doing.  For example, we failed to file federal tax returns.  The IRS isn’t hot on our heals because we don’t owe them any money, but not having at least filed a return saying that we didn’t owe them money was dumb.  Not realizing that we hadn’t done it was dumb again.  Not checking to make sure that it had been taken care of and logging it in our corporate books was dumb a third time.

    We apparently have dumb down.  We’ve shown we’re pretty darned good at it.

    If we could bottle dumb, and people would buy it from us, then we would be where you would go to get it.

    It’s important to note that as a non-profit in Minnesota, these failings are for the most part already public information.  Where it isn’t public information – that in and of itself is where we’ve failed.  The federal and state governments know exactly what our failings are, and anyone who wishes to review our Form 990 will see that we haven’t filed one.  All levels of government have been very helpful in pointing out to us exactly what forms and reports we failed to file, and they have been very encouraging in asking us to get our act together.

    Continue reading

    UPDATE: Sacred Paths Center to Reopen

    Sacred Paths Center sparked speculation yesterday when they abruptly announced that the the center was closing “indefinitely” and would be conducting an internal and external audit.  Today, SPC Executive Director Teisha Magee, announced that the center would reopen Monday, August 8th.

    We sincerely apologize for the confusion caused by our sudden closing. We want to thank Keys of Paradise for making their space available for the events that we inconvenienced this week. – Statement from Executive Director Teisha Magee

    Magee also wanted to reassure people who had scheduled events at the  center between now and the reopening on Monday that the space they reserved is  available to them as promised previously.

    The sudden announcement of indefinite closure, coming just a day after announcing the center had surpassed its fundraising goals to keep their doors open, caused some Pagans to speculate, “If it turns out people’s sympathy was being played to pay someone’s gambling debts, we better see more than an internal audit,” Kenneth commented on The Wild Hunt.  Rumors were further fueled by the resignations of two unnamed board members.

    Magee said the reason for the closing was “to catch up on some neglected organizational items” and to do a physical inventory of the store.  Another task the SPC board is focusing on includes restructuring their organizational tools.

    Sacred Paths Center put out this comment on their facebook page in response to a question:

       Sorry, we’ve realized that the word “audit” has been misconstrued. This is not an IRS-style audit, this is annual audit that all non-profits must do to show that they’ve used the donations they’ve received properly. This isn’t something being forced on the center, this is something the center is doing to make sure our Form 990s and other documentation meet the government’s standards for “best practices”. Because most of our organization is unfamiliar with these forms, we felt getting outside advice was appropriate.

    An unnamed source disputes SPC’s claim that this is a routine audit.  They say that while the SPC board is acting in good faith and sincerely wants to resolve the issue, the temporary closure and audit were forced on the center by a SPC member.  “The member basically came in and said ‘you must do this or I’ll take certain steps’ – implying that they would report the center to some state authority.  The source says the board was aware of irregularities in the center’s books and planned to look into the issue, but the demand by the anonymous center member forced quicker action.

    The source says it unclear if the alleged possible problems with the bookkeeping are  from sloppy record keeping, mismanagement, or rise to an actionable item under Minnesota law.  They noted that the member who demanded the audit firmly believes in the center,  still fully supports it, and says it is a good investment for the community.

    SPC plans to publish a breakdown of the success of their Change and Grow campaign on Monday, August 8th. The full statement from Sacred Paths Center is reprinted below.

    Continue reading

    Breaking: Sacred Paths Center Closed “Indefinitely”

    Editor’s note:  there is an update to this story here.

    At approximately 3pm today Sacred Paths Center put out the following statement:

    As a result of an internal audit during the Change & Grow program, the Sacred Paths Center board has directed the closing of the center and called for a full inventory of the center’s assets and an external audit of the corporation’s finances.

    The board has also empowered an internal audit of the corporation’s organizational documents, governance and administrative procedures, and policies.

    This affects all operation at the Sacred Paths Center’s current facility. The gift shop, all class rooms and the healing center will all be closed indefinitely. All classes and events are suspended indefinitely.

    Normal office hours have been suspended. The staff have been directed to focus on preparing materials necessary for the external audit and will not be available to answer questions about the closure.

    Rather than stopping by the center or attempting to reach us by phone, please contact the center at ClosingQuestions@SacredPathsCenter.com if you have any questions or concerns about the audit, and SacredPathsCenter@gmail.com if you have any questions about upcoming classes and availability of healers, readers, teachers and other services.

    PNC-Minnesota is seeking further information about the closure, the future of the center, and the status of SPC board members.

    As information becomes available, this article will be updated.

    Community Center Hits Goal

    Sacred Paths Center, a Pagan community center serving the Minneapolis-St. Paul area, sent out a message in early July that they were in dire fiscal straits and needed over$12,000 dollars by July 31st if they were to avoid closure.  After a series of fundraisers,  matching funds, and individual donors from across the country CJ Stone announces Sacred Paths Center hit their goal and will remain open.

    The board of directors has voted to keep the Sacred Paths Center open and will begin to further cut operating costs and to re-focus our staff and center on our core mission and competencies.

    At the next regularly scheduled meeting (Wednesday, August 10, 2011), the board will hear proposals from several committees to improve the level and quality of service we offer our members and the community; to ensure SPC stays strong and has the resources to act; to become a strong advocate in the metro area for our essential mission and promise. – Statement from Sacred Paths Center

    The center announced $13,140 had been raised during the past month.

    One of the fundraisers held, a Harry Potter Birthday Party, took place at the center on Friday, July 29th.  Attendees were invited to come dressed as a character from the series and enter the costume contest.  Other activities included Potter trivia and wand crafting for kids.

    
    
    					
    
    				

    Earth House Donates to Sacred Paths Center

    Starting in 2009, Earth House Project pledged to donate 25% of the proceeds from their Midsummer Gather to the Sacred Paths Center. Last Saturday, Earth House Project presented Sacred Paths Center with $978.62 in fulfillment of that pledge.  This is in addition to the donation of $937.24 Earth House presented to Sacred Paths Center in 2010.

    Earth House says they make donations of this type to support an organization whose mission parallels their own. “We are particularly pleased that this donation comes at a crucial time for SPC. Only by working together can we build and grow.  We hope other groups with the income to do so will also contribute to our community Center as we have.”

    On July 7th, Sacred Paths Center announced they were in a financial crisis and needed immediate funding or they would close their doors.  CJ Stone, SPC Board member and Spokesperson, said they needed to raise $12,000 by July 30th.  That would allow the community center to pay the outstanding bills and make the changes needed to steer the center in a direction that is financially viable.  As of press time, the center has raised $9795 towards that goal.

    Earth House Project is a tax-exempt, non-profit, volunteer community working to build a resource center in the Twin Cities area for people of all nature-reverent spiritual paths.  Their goal is to create a Pan-Pagan Community Center to allow all Pagans to have permanent sacred space for ritual, be a beacon for newcomers in the community to find others to worship with, and provide meeting rooms, office space, and other needed services. The group plans to donate profits from rental of halls and meeting rooms back into the Pagan community.

    Editor’ note: the article has been updated to include the current amount raised by SPC.

    SPC Launches “Change and Grow Fundraiser”

    The Sacred Path Center has raised $6275 of their $12,000 goal. They have instituted immediate plans to aid raising the remaining $5725 of their goal though a  “Change and Grow Fundraiser”.  This list from their website  includes;

    1. The gift shop will have a “Change and Grow Sale” to eliminate slow-moving stock and reduce overall stock for targeted re-stocking. The sale will be announced July 22 and run to July 29. On July 29, we will also have food available for sale as a whoop-te-do to end the sale.
    2. We will auction on EBay a very valuable personal item CJ Stone has donated from Loui Pieper’s estate. We hope not only to get a good price for the item but to garner national attention from many different kinds of people. Continue reading

    Sacred Path Center – Update – Interview with CJ Stone, Board spokesman

    The Sacred Paths Center (SPC)  Board met for their regularly scheduled meeting last night, however all scheduled business was tabled to focus on the financial affairs of the Center. A board quorum was present, and several Board members contributed to the discussion by phone.  The SPC website now has installed a fund-raising thermometer to depict their progress toward the immediate $7500 goal, of which half will be matched by other donations. They are currently at 20% of this goal.

    *NOTE.  The Sacred Paths Center is continually updating their website with fund raising progress and new events.  Please check their website for updates on their current situation !

     

     

    CJ Stone, Board member, has been delegated spokesman for the Sacred Paths Center. I was able to interview him last night,  Friday July 8th, after the Board meeting.

    What is the financial status of the SPC?

    CJ Stone, Board Member, spokesman:

    The immediate needs to keep the doors temporarily open were covered. The Center needs 7500 dollars to continue to operate through this month. The Board has decided that 12,000 was what we needed by midnight of July 30th or we will close the facility. If we can secure that 12k dollars, we can pay our bills to zero and have a positive balance to keep the center open and by able to steer the Center in a direction that will be financially viable.

    What changes would make it viable? Continue reading

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