After the obituary, a post-mortem on Sacred Paths Center

“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.

Sacred Paths Center cc wikipedia

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.

What Happened?

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.”

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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 Fundraiser Deemed a Success

Although the goal amount of $5000 was not reached, Sacred Paths Center’s No Need to Panic fundraiser was considered a success by organizers.  The event, attended by approximately 90 area Pagans, raised nearly $3000.  Official numbers have not yet been released, but board members say that $350 was raised through the Buy a Bowl dinner, $1700 from the silent and live auctions, and $950 from raffling off the emerald and matrix Goddess statue.  Damien Johnson, who was the emcee for the evening, auctioned off  items such as a basket of freshly picked vegetables, swords, a kitchen witch, and original works of art.

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