What is Church Music Forward? It is a process involving all who participate. CMF’s goal is to create a lively, open conversation and forum for sharing. Imagine a tapestry: the threads are woven by the community, the framework supporting the tapestry, built and maintained by John-Westley Hodges and Martha Burford. The dialogues and reflections create the stories in the tapestry: What is Church Music? How do we share? How do we hear? What in our stories glorifies God? What does it look like when “the light surprises Christians when they sing”? What do YOU want from CMF?
The framework for this work is CMF. A quarterly newsletter with essays by church musicians and clergy, as well as compositions and arrangements freely offered for use in any church. A website with photo gallery and resources, shared through Church Music, arising from the correspondence in the community. A Facebook group for networking, commenting, and sharing of media. All of these things comprise CMF.
Who are John-Westley Hodges and Martha Burford? Martha and John-Westley met in 2011 at the Mississippi Conference on Church Music and Liturgy. After a few conversations, they knew that God had a bigger plan for them. In 2012, John-Westley traveled to Virginia to Holy Comforter Episcopal Church and spent the weekend with Martha and her choir. The collaboration between the two, with the choir and congregation took deep root, and John-Westley and Martha, wanting to share the riches of connection, dreamed: CMF. Nearly three years later, these two still have a fire in their hearts for church music and keeping it moving within the church. Their goal is not to change the music of the church, it is simply “preserving traditions with imagination.” By doing this, we allow ourselves to open to the possibilities of the Holy Spirit and allow God to move within us and our music.