St. Matthew's Episcopal Church
in Wheeling WV

Rev. Mr. Thomas immediately set about to revive the music program and to secure facilities for the youth program. To that end, Robert Knox Chapman was brought from New Jersey to serve as organist and choirmaster, and a committee was appointed to consider the possibilities of a new parish house.

In 1947, the Vestry authorized the purchase of the Pollock house on Chapline Street, located one-half block from the church, for use as a parish house annex, and named the property Strider House. This facility was used for youth programs and other parish activities.

The Evangel, a bi-monthly parish newsletter, was first published during the rectorship of Rev. Mr. Thomas. He was also a founding member of the Greater Wheeling Council of Churches. Perhaps the most gratifying action of the Vestry during this period was the appointment of John K. Zorian as organist and choirmaster in 1949. Twenty years later, the church accorded him emeritus status in recognition of his important service.

The twenty years following World War II were an exciting time for St. Matthew's as it was generally for religion in America. The Reverend Frederick F. Bush Jr. accepted the call to become rector of St. Matthew's in 1952. St. Matthew's membership grew to well over 1,000. Services were well attended and additional space was necessary for all facets of church life. it was reported that there were 250 youth involved in the programs of the church. It was again necessary for St. Matthew's to expand.

A new ambitious building program was initiated in 1952, with a construction goal of $165,000. The Strider House was sold and the profit was added to a fund to build a new parish house adjoining the church. The major task of tearing down part of the old parish house and what was once the rectory, and erecting the new parish house in its place, began in 1955 under the direction of architectural design firm, John J. Ritz of Steubenville, Ohio. There were major alterations to the offices and Sunday school rooms, and sandblasting and cleaning of the exterior of the entire church was completed. The dedication of the new Strider House took place on October 21, 1956.

Another major improvement in 1954, was the installation of a two-stop Otis elevator in the bell tower, running from the ground floor hall to the narthex. This gift was given to the church in memory of Judge James W. Ewing.

A new assistant rector, The Reverend Robert P. Atkinson, came to St. Matthew's in 1955, after completing his studies at Virginia Theological Seminary. He returned to St. Matthew's on May 6, 1963, to be consecrated as the fifth bishop of W. Virginia.

Another assistant who came to St. Matthew's during the time of Rev. Mr. Bush's tenure was the Reverend William E. Swing, who, in 1979, became the bishop of California. It is significant that Rev. Mr. Bush was the mentor at St. Matthew's for two future bishops of the church.

Out the pike at Echo Point, St. Matthew's built a new educational building to complement St. John's Chapel. Interestingly, that new building was designed in 1959, by architect L. Woodward Franzheim, nephew of architect Edward Bates Franzheim who designed the cruciform chapel. No sooner was this building completed than plans were set in motion to create an independent congregation at this site. True to its spirit of mission, and with the encouragement of Rev. Mr. Bush, St. Matthew's Vestry added their inspiration to St. John's plans by giving them the Echo Point property and loaning their priest assistants for services of Eucharist. In the spring of 1963, a separate congregation was formed and, by fall, The Reverend Charles E. Roberts Jr. arrived to serve as vicar of the new St. John's Church.

Weekly Services

Sunday:
8:00 A.M. Holy Eucharist: Rite I
10:30 A.M. Holy Eucharist: Rite II

Wednesday:
12:05 P.M.  H.E. and Healing Service

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St. Matthew's Episcopal Church
1410 Chapline Street
Wheeling, WV 26003
(304) 233-0133

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