Where We Were
In 1922, the South Central Jurisdiction of the United Methodist Church opened Mount Sequoyah as a camp for member churches. For decades, Mount Sequoyah hosted churches from across the South for conferences, meetings, and camps as a reprieve from summer heat. But times changed and usage fell. By 2010, Church business had fallen from 100 percent to just 17 percent of Mount Sequoyah’s annual business. The Church had also become concerned about the liability exposure associated with owning a property that was rarely used for traditional purposes. As the Church considered what to do with the property, the future of Mount Sequoyah became uncertain.
In June of 2016, the then interim CEO received a letter from the College of Bishops proposing to transfer ownership of the center and property to the Mount Sequoyah Board of Trustees. The Board immediately agreed to the plan. In a matter of five weeks, the necessary documents were drafted, the Board approved, and the transfer was presented to the South Central Jurisdiction. In July of 2016, 300 members of the Jurisdiction voted to transfer ownership and control of the property to a newly formed non-profit: Mount Sequoyah Center Inc., a 100 percent independent organization. Mount Sequoyah entered a new era.
Where We Are
Under the terms of the agreement, the new Mount Sequoyah Center faces a number of challenges and obligations, including an annual funding loss of around $165,000. Until 2031, if there is an operating surplus (excluding donations) or sale of property, 50 percent goes to the Jurisdiction, up to a total of $1 million. In turn, the Church will give any money they receive from Mount Sequoyah to the Lydia Patterson Institute, a Jurisdiction owned school in El Paso, Texas that provides Mexican students the opportunity to study at the American college preparatory school. In the event that Mount Sequoyah does not give the Jurisdiction the $1 million by 2031, it will remain its own non-profit entity, without penalty.
Where We Are Going
Mount Sequoyah Center continues to operate as a non-profit, maintaining the tradition that began under the United Methodist Church. It provides a service to the community by offering a tranquil park setting for the public to enjoy. It offers programming for youth and seniors, as well as, support for other non-profits in the region. Not to be underestimated is its value to the community as an historic property worth preserving.
Work that will carry Mount Sequoyah into its second century continues. A third party architect firm is currently conducting a feasibility study and site plan to determine the best use for the property. The staff and board are working with a strategy consultant to build a mission, vision, and identity in the community. In the meantime, Mount Sequoyah will continue to do what it does best: strengthening the community by providing the space, services, and environment that foster a variety of individual, organizational, and personal missions.