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Church gives woman nearly $1,000 donation back after 4 years

Money intended for new sanctuary that hasn't been built

DANIA BEACH, Fla. – Katie Milledge donated $970 to her church four years ago, and she's been fighting to get it back ever since.

Milledge originally donated money to help St. Ruth Missionary Baptist Church in Dania Beach build a new sanctuary that hasn't been built yet.

In fact, the church was renting the property to a construction company to store heavy equipment for an unrelated project until code enforcement issued a violation for that practice. The church did submit building plans to Dania Beach, but there has been no movement on the project in years.

"I gave this money for a specific purpose and if that purpose is not being done, then I have every right to get it back," Milledge said. "I know this is the church, but the church can be wrong, too."

Milledge has left the church and hired an attorney, but she was told donations were made in good faith and would not be returned.

"It's sad because it has changed my perspective of church," she said.

In March, Local 10 News first reported on Milledge's issue. Ernest Jones, a church trustee and ministry chairman, refused to give a comment.

"After I saw the story that aired on your news station, I wanted to sit down with her," the Rev. J.C. Howard said. "When I first met with her, she actually cried, because she didn't want it to go this far and she didn't want to battle publicly with the church."

Howard is the newly appointed pastor at St. Ruth, and his first order of business was to cut Milledge a check.

"After talking with her and speaking with her, I felt the Lord moving me to just bless her with the money," Howard said.

Milledge said she will put the money toward buying a van to help those in need.  

"My calling is to have a homeless shelter," she said. "So I want pick up people and take them to church. The word of God is keeping me, so I believe that if people hear the word of God, that encourages them."

Howard supports her in this mission and said he wishes her the best.

As for a new church, he said it will be built eventually, but there are no immediate plans to do so.