The death of Bishop Johns in 1876 and the assumption of all the Episcopal duties by Bishop Francis M. Whittle furnished the occasion to again discuss the possibility of a separate W. Virginia Diocese. Accordingly, a meeting of the parochial delegates was called in Parkersburg, W. Virginia, on April 18, 1877. When financial stability was the only question remaining, St. Matthew's answered by committing $600 the first year. Subsequently, George W. Peterkin was selected as the first bishop, and St. Matthew's was selected as the site of the consecration on May 30, 1878.
Never before had St. Matthew's been favored with such an array of dignitaries. The consecrator was the venerable bishop of Ohio, Dr. Bedell, who had provided Episcopal services to St. Matthew's during the Civil War. Four other bishops assisted in the consecrationBishop Dudley of Kentucky, Bishop Whittle of Virginia, Bishop Kerfoot of Pittsburgh, and Bishop Jagger of southern Ohio.
On October 7, 1878, The Reverend Rodney Rush Swope of Cleveland, Ohio, was called to serve as rector of St. Matthew's. He arrived in November to begin a long and productive ministry in Wheeling.