Our Staff

Pastor — Rev. Joseph Summers

Joe SummersJoe Summers was called to ministry after realizing that many of the happiest times in his life involved being part of a eucharistic community engaged in the struggle for social change.

A St. Louis native, Joe grew up in the segregation era, where he was raised as a member of Trinity Church – an inner-city, inter-racial Episcopal congregation. And while he was too young to join them, Joe remembers when his older sister and other Trinity members joined Dr. King in Selma and Montgomery.

He also remembers watching as a Black child died after being hit by a car – because the only hospital that would treat a poor Black child was thirteen miles away.

Joe spent his high school years in Rochester, New York, where he became a member of a diocesan youth group that organized Rochester’s anti Vietnam-war movement.

At the University of Michigan, Joe majored in English Literature – but he also spent a good amount of his time working with different social change groups including the United Farmworkers, the Catholic Worker Movement, and the movement for Human Rights in Latin America. Dorothy Day and Paulo Freire were two of his important mentors during those years.

After becoming disillusioned with his graduate work in American Studies, Joe, inspired by Paulo Friere and by his pastor, the Rev. Jim Lewis of St. Andrew’s Church, changed his focus and enrolled in the seminary at Yale Divinity School.

At Yale, Joe says, “I spent a lot of my time trying to understand what a liberation theology for middle class people might look like.”

While at seminary, Joe spent his school holidays and summer breaks worshipping at Incarnation – and after graduating with his degree, Joe joined us as our Vicar in 1985.

At Incarnation, I’ve found a place where people take seriously the attempt to discern where and how the Holy Spirit is speaking to us individually and collectively. Here I experience the fullness of life that comes with living in community, going through all of life with a group of people sharing our lives and struggles. Here I’ve found a place from which I can continue to work to realize the beloved community in the broader world. I’m very, very grateful.

You can reach out to Joe by email here.

Deacon – Thalia Johnson

Thalia JohnsonIIA Dexter native, Thalia’s commitment to social justice led her first to Malaysia with the Peace Corps, and then to a twenty-five year career as an Extension 4-H Youth Agent with Michigan State University in the UP, the Lower Peninsula, and finally in Lenawee County.

After retiring, Thalia and others in Adrian formed Cambios, a non-profit organization that provided anti-racism resources and programs to schools and families.

In 1987, she was ordained a vocational deacon by Bishop Coleman McGehee. The struggle against racism and other social justice issues have been the main focus of her ministry.

In addition to Cambios, Thalia has been active in the Sanctuary movement, advocacy for people who are homeless, and LGBT activism including serving on the board of Oasis and helping found a PFLAG (Parents, Family & Friends of Lesbians and Gays) chapter in Lenawee County. She also served as part of the Peninsula Group, a gathering of LGBT leaders who gathered to form a strategic plan for LGBT equality efforts in response to the passage of Michigan’s discriminatory anti-marriage amendment in 2004.

Thalia has taught classes for the Diocesan School of Theology, including training facilitators for a wide variety of tasks in the diocese. She has served as an alternate deputy from the Diocese of Michigan at three General Conventions of the Episcopal Church – in 2006, 2009, and 2012.

Thalia has served as Deacon at the Church of the Incarnation since 2008. You can reach her by email here.
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Director of Music – Brian E. Buckner

Brian Buckner
In addition to serving as Incarnation’s Director of Music, Brian is an is an award-winning composer, musical director and pianist in the Ann Arbor area.

Brian’s most recent musical direction credits include Give Me The Simple Life (a cabaret show co-authored with Tyler Kent and Karen Carpenter which toured in China), Forever Plaid, Rent, The Music Man, and Guys and Dolls.

You can reach Brian by email here.

Episcopal Church of the Incarnation,
3257 Lohr Rd., Ann Arbor, MI 48108.
734-769-7900