Appeal, No. 174, March T., 1953, from decree of Court of Common Pleas of Westmoreland County, in Equity, No. 2464, in case of Forbes Road Union Church and Sunday School v. Incorporated Trustees of Salvation Army. Decree reversed.
Christ C. Walthour, Jr., with him George E. Berry, Jr., for appellant.
A. C. Scales, with him Scales & Shaw, for appellee.
Before Stern, C.j., Stearne, Jones, Bell, Chidsey, Musmanno and Arnold, JJ.
OPINION BY MR. JUSTICE ALLEN M. STEARNE
The appeal is from a decree in equity directing a religious corporation to deed a church edifice to another church corporation. One Judge dissented. The litigation arises from a dispute among the congregation of an undenominational church and Sunday school.
The facts are largely undisputed. The small village of Forbes Road is located in Westmoreland County a number of miles distant from Greensburg. Practically all the male residents of the village are employed by
the Jamison Coal & Coke Company, a mining corporation operating in or adjacent to the village. For many years the Protestant residents conducted in the village an undenominational or nonsectarian church and Sunday school known as Forbes Road Church and Sunday School. Services were held either in a scout hall or in a school building. The Ministerial Association of Greensburg supplied ministers of various Protestant religious affiliations. Religious leaders were also supplied by the Salvation Army. Ministers or religious leaders were assigned regardless of their respective religious persuasions. The Salvation Army serves without any financial remuneration, has no separate creed, is not denominational, has no roll of members, but conducts religious services and acts as spiritual advisers to all who may attend its services. The various services were attended by the inhabitants of Forbes Road, irrespective of their religious faiths. The average attendance was between forty and fifty.
The church facilities proved to be unsuited to the community's needs. The Jamison Coal & Coke Company was anxious that a suitable undenominational church and Sunday school be maintained in the community. In the absence of suitable facilities, children were obliged, in order to attend Sunday school, to travel a number of miles to Greensburg. Many did not possess necessary transportation facilities. To alleviate this situation the Coal Company purchased a lot in the village and commenced the erection of a church edifice. It was found that the site so selected was not desirable, whereupon the Coal Company concluded to help to erect a church edifice on a lot upon the Coal Company's own land. This was done. The church edifice was erected from material contributed by the Coal Company, and with funds supplied by the congregation who also performed labor. The undenominational
or nonsectarian congregation was known as Forbes Road ...