It appeared to be a routine agenda item for the Richmond County school board.
The district administration had requested approval to donate 25 folding or stacking chairs to Praise and Deliverance Ministries, and administrators said they had the chairs in surplus.
But when board Chairman Marion Barnes saw the church's address -- 3837 Martinez Blvd. in Martinez -- he said he would support the donation only if the church was in Richmond County. Board members could not determine during Tuesday afternoon's committee meeting which county the church was in because the Martinez mailing address covers parts of both Richmond and Columbia counties.
A check of Richmond County's official Web site, www.augustaga.gov, shows that the church is just over the line in Columbia County.
"I'm against (the donation) if the church isn't in Richmond County," Barnes said during the meeting. "Nothing against the church, but if the church is in Richmond County, I'm for it. If it's outside Richmond County, I'm against it because of whose money it is."
He was referring to any donation of school system equipment, ultimately paid for by Richmond County taxpayers, going outside the county. No action was taken Tuesday, but several board members nodded or otherwise indicated they agreed with Barnes.
Contacted after the meeting, Pastor Kimberly Williams said she was surprised. She said Praise and Deliverance Ministries had been in Augusta, at 222 Sixth St., for the past couple of years, until just three weeks ago.
"My personal view is, I'm the type of person that I just want to help God's people. It doesn't matter what county they live in," Williams said. "I think if that's their personal opinion, I really feel sorry for people who think that way."
The nondenominational church has 16 regular members, but attendance is often more than that with visitors, she said, adding that Praise and Deliverance recently gave another church its pews and gave away a piano.
"One of the reasons we needed extra chairs was, we had a revival about two weeks ago, and the church was packed from front to back," she said. "We have a pretty good amount of chairs. ... I believe in trusting in God. I know beyond the shadow of a doubt that even if we don't look for someone else, God will send somebody."