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Woman wants $970 donation back after church not built

St. Ruth Missionary Baptist Church refuses to refund woman's money

DANIA BEACH, Fla. – Katie Milledge is a believer.

She used to take the church van to pick up the homeless and bring them to St. Ruth Missionary Baptist Church in Dania Beach to worship.  

"Despite of all my failures, the word of God has kept me," Milledge said.

So when St. Ruth decided it was time to move to a new location and for a new sanctuary, Milledge was asked to donate, and records show that she did.

"I live on a fixed income like everybody else," Milledge said. "They needed a new sanctuary, and I just bought into the vision."

She gave $970.

That was in 2012, and four years later the church’s new location on Northwest Ninth Avenue hasn’t been constructed.

The church was renting the property to a construction company to store heavy equipment for an unrelated project -- that was until code enforcement issued a violation for that.

"By now I thought (there) would be some signs, it would show some signs of something," Milledge said.

She ended up asking for her money back.

"I went to them in private," Milledge said. "They ignored me."

Milledge called an attorney, who emailed back and forth with the church demanding the money be returned.

The church's attorney claims the project has not been abandoned, and in a letter to Milledge the attorneys said that donations were made in "good faith and will not be returned."

"This is so sad that it has gotten to this point," Milledge said.

Milledge told Local 10 News investigative reporter Jeff Weinsier that she feels as if she's been ripped off.

"I feel like they defrauded me," she said.

A check of public records in Dania Beach City Hall showed that while the church did submit plans for the new location, the city kicked back those plans and asked for revisions. That was in September 2014.

The church hasn't submitted anything new in the 17 months since then.

Dania Beach Vice Mayor Albert Jones is a member of the church, and sate records show that he's also the treasurer. He didn't return calls from Local 10 News for comment on this story.

"Our official comment is no comment," said Ernest Jones, a church trustee and ministry chairman.

When asked why the church doesn't give Milledge her money back, Ernest repeated, "Our comment, at this time, is no comment."

In papers filed with the state, Jones claims $92,000 has been spent on plans, soil testing, surveys and permits.

But Milledge, who has filed a complaint with the Florida Division of Consumer Services, has lost faith in a church going up in that location.

"Not in my lifetime," she said.