Update: Sacred Paths Center Closed “Indefinitely”

Jason Pitzl-Waters —  August 4, 2011 — 23 Comments

In yesterday’s community roundup I noted that Sacred Paths Center, a Pagan community center serving the Minneapolis/St. Paul area (aka “Paganistan”), had been able to reach its fundraising goals, and would be staying open. This was the culmination of an emergency fundraising campaign started at the beginning of July to save the center, it was estimated that they needed to raise approximately $12,000 to remain open and have enough breathing room to restructure. However, just one day after announcing that they have successfully reached their fundraising goals, Sacred Paths Center sent out a statement saying the center was closed “indefinitely” pending internal and external financial audits.

“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.”

Shortly after the statement went out figures closely associated with SPC commented on the closing. At PNC-Minnesota, board member CJ Stone made the following comment:

“SPC is NOT out of business. They are doing due diligence with donors’ monies. They spotted problems with what’s going on, and they are moving to fix it NOW instead of “Oh, you know, in a couple weeks or so. What’s the difference?” The alternative is for them to pretend nothing is happening, have the money and the SPC go down the drain, not come clean in public about it, and prove there’s no way to do a Pagan community center.”

This was echoed by another board member, Carol Haselmann, on SPC’s Facebook group.

“It’s temporary until we can get the audit done. “Indefinitely” was probably a poor word choice at the moment. Thanks for your patience.”

PNC-Minnesota tells me that it’s unlikely further official statements will be made until after the center’s next board meeting on August 10th. Hopefully at that time we will learn more about SPC’s future, what triggered the audit, and why that necessitated a closure. While this is a local matter, it has generated interest far beyond the Twin Cities as other Pagan communities explore opening their own community centers. I’ll keep you posted on any further updates.

To learn more about the history of Sacred Paths Center, check out the special video series produced earlier this year (part 1part 2) by PNC reporter Cara Schultz.

You can read all of my coverage on this story, here.

ADDENDUM: Sacred Paths Center announces they will reopen on 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. We are reaching out to the coordinators for all events scheduled at the center between now and the reopening on Monday to assure them that the space they reserved will be available to them as promised previously. If you have something scheduled at the center this weekend you will have space.

The reason for closing this week is simply to catch up on some neglected organizational items. We need to do a physical inventory of the store, clean up our book keeping and filing systems, and we are restructuring our organizational tools to better serve our members and the community. These projects become very difficult when being done amongst the hustle and bustle of the normal Center functions.”

On Monday they promise to publish “a breakdown of the success of our Change and Grow campaign.” As always, we’ll keep you posted.

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Jason Pitzl-Waters

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  • http://twitter.com/lunamoth42 Luna

    I work for a non-profit that, because it moves more than x-amount of dollars through each fiscal year, must automatically go through audits every single year. It’s oh so fun. I wish them well.

    • Anonymous

      I also work in the finance dept of a non-profit and can also say that audits are necessary and a major pain. The IRS requires non-profits that make over a certain amount to file annual 990′s. And you thought your income tax returns were bad…

  • http://www.patheos.com Star Foster

    Every story touching Sacred Paths Center gets more bizarre. I was planning to donate this weekend, but now I’m glad I waited.

    • Thelettuceman

      It’s sad, but I’m in agreement. While I do not believe that the group would be in any way using the community for their own profit, I would certainly want my money to be utilized as best as possible and not lost through mismanagement and neglect.

      • http://profiles.google.com/vanye111 Jason Hatter

        The audit timing definitely suggests that there may be some potential for mismanagement involved…

        • http://twitter.com/lunamoth42 Luna

          Audits aren’t always triggered because people are doing it wrong. Sometimes it’s because your bank notifies the IRS you’ve had a sudden influx of cash (as they are legally supposed to do) and sometimes it’s needed because the people doing the books genuinely need the help of a professional accounting firm to show them where there might be improvements made in process.

  • http://vermillionrush.wordpress.com Vermillion

    The words “audit” and “inventory” mean vastly different things. I don’t even know how anyone could have mixed up the two.

    • Guest

      Maybe they should just reopen somewhere that isn’t charging 3 grand a month.

      • Na

        When did there rent go up to $3K/month? It was less than $2K 2 years ago…

    • http://egregores.wordpress.com Apuleius Platonicus

      Ouch. Vermillion really nailed this.

  • http://www.magickal-media.com Alice C. “A.C.” Fisher Aldag

    Actually after getting that much $$ in donations, a financial audit is a good idea. Here’s hoping they publish the results. Without bank account numbers… and before anyone says, “We’re not that dumb”, I accidentally did that once. Anyway. Showing the books to the public reassures us that everything is legal and above board.

  • Lori F – MN

    I’m willing to give them the benefit of a doubt. They have given a firm date for their reopening and have made sure their people have been taken care of until that time. If they were really closing and didn’t care, they wouldn’t have done that much.
    They received a lot of money in a short time. It’s unfortunate that the audit had to close them down even for a short time.

  • http://pagancollegestudent.blogspot.com/ WarriorPrincessDanu

    I suspect much of the drama could have been avoided if they had used better wording. “Indefinitely” is a very loaded word, and carries with it the implication that they would never re-open. A phrase like “until further notice” or “for the time being” would have been better. Or something like, “We are conducting audits and will remain closed until they are completed. We will release our re-opening date as soon as that information is available.” I think explaining why they’re doing the audits, and why it was necessary to close while doing them, would have also helped.

    • Lori F – MN

      YES Poor wording.

  • Anonymous

    I’m mildly weary of this learning curve of SPC. 2 times now, they’ve need emergency fund raising efforts because they are learning how a non-profit runs and now they need us to be understanding that they aren’t communicating well.

    Maybe this group isn’t meant to run the SPC.

    • http://www.OccultCorpus.com Caliban

      Considering no one else is even trying to do it, I think some measure of learning-curve is inevitable.

      How is the pagan community center that YOU manage doing?

      • Anonymous

        I’m not interested in a Community Center. The concept does nothing for me. Do I want someplace to go and worship? I have my back yard, the park down the street, the altars in my home.

        There are so many flavors of paganism that trying to be all things to all people is not something that interests me.

        • Grimmorrigan

          But damning people who are attempting to run a pagan community center does apparently. Maybe they are not the group meant to run it…but they have taken the big step and attempted to run it. You may not care about their efforts and damn them for not learning fast enough to please you, yet make it clear that a community center is something which is of no interest to you. Its the old, ” I don’t care about what you are doing, but you are not doing the way I would want you too.”

          • Cigfran

            It’s the old “unless you’re doing it, you have no standing to critique.”

          • Anonymous

            But I’m not damning them. They asked for my support, and I went there a couple of times, cash in hand, and found nothing that interested me.

            They called on the community to help them and I went and again I found nothing there. I wanted them to succeed, otherwise I wouldn’t have gone there at all. (it **was**completely out of my way to go there)

            This most recent time, I felt they blamed the community for not supporting them enough.
            Now they are temporarily closed in a dramatic fashion and when I say that all the incidents lead me to think that they aren’t the group for the endeavor, I am damning them.

            I think they did that fine on the own.

          • Anonymous

            But I’m not damning them. They asked for my support, and I went there a couple of times, cash in hand, and found nothing that interested me.

            They called on the community to help them and I went and again I found nothing there. I wanted them to succeed, otherwise I wouldn’t have gone there at all. (it **was**completely out of my way to go there)

            This most recent time, I felt they blamed the community for not supporting them enough.
            Now they are temporarily closed in a dramatic fashion and when I say that all the incidents lead me to think that they aren’t the group for the endeavor, I am damning them.

            I think they did that fine on the own.

  • Anonymous

    I hope they can work this out successfully. Let’s hope this is all above board. $12 grand isn’t really run off to South America money. Anyone doing a ‘grab the cash and dash’ isn’t going to get far. It *would* be extremely embarrassing and detrimental for the Pagan community however.

  • Lori F – MN

    To those running Sacred Paths and those who criticize:
    http://www.thorncoyle.com/2011/07/risking-criticism/

    All hale those who risk…