“At 6:25 pm (April 25th) the Executive Director dissolved the board of directors,” reads the last entry in the minutes of the final board meeting of Sacred Paths Center, a Pagan community center in Minnesota. A few days later, on Beltane, Executive Director Teisha Magee sent out an email saying the center closes May 31st.
“Why is Sacred Paths Center closing?” is a question asked by Twin Cities Pagans after reading the announcement. That question is quickly followed by, “What can we learn from their experience?” by Pagan organizations such as Solar Cross Temple in San Francisco and the Open Hearth Foundation community center in Washington DC. PNC-Minnesota spoke with past and present Sacred Paths Center (SPC) board members, volunteers, and their last financial auditor, looked over financial records and minutes of board meetings, and interviewed Teisha Magee to answer those questions.
In short, most everyone interviewed says the center’s Director and Board were not functional, the finances were in disarray, the building was too expensive, and the resulting drop in income after two years of road construction right outside their door didn’t help matters.
Despite that, they are united in saying the center almost made it due to the efforts of the Director, Board, volunteers and the most importantly, the community support. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics only 66% of new businesses make it past two years and only 44% celebrate their fourth anniversary. Sacred Paths Center made it three years and three months.
The public perception of Sacred Paths Center is that it is a non-profit community center with a board. And normally with something like that the director would report to the board and the board would have something to do with the operation of the center and would have fiduciary responsibilities. That’s not the case. – Ciaran Benson, former SPC board member and current volunteer
What happened, the successes and the failures, are of prime concern to Sean Bennett, Vice Chair of the Open Hearth Foundation. Four months ago they opened a community center and he says his board has been following news of Sacred Paths Center closely. “Even though the center in Minnesota has a different environment and a different dynamic there are lessons we could learn.” He says they were concerned and disappointed to hear of SPC’s closing, “We wanted to see it succeed. We want to know more about what happened and we will gather together as a board and see what lessons we can learn.”