LEWISBURG (WVDN) – After a year-long discernment process, St. James’ Episcopal Church in Lewisburg announces its new ministry team: priest in charge, the Rev. Zach Drennen, and priest associate, the Rev. Joseph Lutz.
Drennen is a native West Virginian with a passion for the outdoors and a love for helping people along on their life’s journey with the Divine. After growing up in Charleston, he studied environmental economics at Colorado College before working on numerous organic farms across the U.S. and South America. In his late 20s, Drennen settled back in West Virginia and started his teaching career at a residential school for adjudicated teenage boys. Within a couple of years, he entered Harvard Divinity School to pursue a Master of Divinity and ordination in the Episcopal Church.
Ordained in 2002, Drennen spent two years as a curate and assistant priest at The Church of the Good Shepherd in Parkersburg. He then moved to Pittsburg where he served for three years as the school chaplain and history/religion teacher at The Neighborhood Academy. In 2007, Drennen left the U.S. for Kenya, where he served as an appointed missionary for the Episcopal Church for eight years. During that time, he started and ran The Elewana Education Project, a nongovernment agency intent on improving the resources and educational offerings in local Kenyan high schools.
Returning to the U.S. and his native state of West Virginia in late 2015, Drennen soon began working on various projects focused on economic development and sustainable energy. In 2022, Drennen moved with his family to Lewisburg, where he teaches humanities classes at the Yew School, a middle school devoted to outdoor experiential learning. Drennen is married to Lida Shepherd, and they have three children.
Lutz will continue in his role as priest associate at St. James’ a position he has held since 2021. Lutz is well known to the Lewisburg community where he has been a resident for almost three decades and recently retired as a physician’s assistant at Greenbrier Physicians.
Lutz was an elected member of Lewisburg City Council from 2011-2019.
After participating in the 4-year Episcopal Diocese of West Virginia’s Education for Ministry program and completing a Certificate in Theological Studies from Iona, Seminary of the Southwest, Lutz felt called to bringing the same caring kindness he used in his work as a physician’s assistant into pastoral care. Ordained in 2021, Lutz leads St. James’ pastoral care initiatives and works in partnership with Drennen to lead services.
Lutz has five adult children and is married to Barbara Wygal Lutz.
For more information about St. James Episcopal Church, visit https://www.lewisburgstjames.org.