Church Music Forward
"Preserving Traditions with Imagination"

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Meet the Editors:

John-Westley Hodges, Co-Editor/Co-Founder

John-Westley Hodges, a native of New Orleans, currently resides in Peoria, IL. With a great love for music, John-Westley has performed and directed music at scores of churches and venues; additionally, he has been a self-managing music instructor since 1999. John-Westley studied Music Education at Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College, Perkinston, MS and Clarinet Performance at Delta State University, Cleveland, MS.  Currently the Director of Music Ministries for St. Paul's Episcopal Church, Peoria, IL (www.stpaulspeoria.org) and is also the co-editor/co-founder of Church Music Forward (www.churchmusicforward.com) and serves on the board of directors for the Mississippi Conference on Church Music and Liturgy (www.mississippiconference.org). Before serving at St. Paul's, he served at St. Patrick's Episcopal Church, Long Beach, MS, St. Aidan's Episcopal Church, Alpharetta, GA, and St. Joseph's Episcopal Church, McDonough, GA.


As a leader, John-Westley inspires congregations and choir members to sing a new song and allows them to be free in their offerings. As a composer, John-Westley loves finding creative ways to present the Psalms in worship and composing Anthems for choirs. As a performer, John-Westley finds ultimate satisfaction in offering musical offerings to God.

Martha Jones Burford, Co-Editor/Co-Founder

For most of her life, Martha has worked in Episcopal and Lutheran parishes as the Director of Music and has taught music and English in many venues including St. Catherine’s School, Richmond, and Orchard House School, Richmond. She has served on diocesan committees and the Standing Commission for Liturgy and Church Music. Currently, Martha is on the faculty of The Canterbury School, an Episcopal K-8 School in Greensboro, NC, where she also serves as the organist. Some of her favorite things include singing with other people in just about any setting, being drawn into sacred time, learning from middle school readers and writers, watching the antics of her dachshunds, and participating in liturgies where the Holy Spirit is palpable.

Elizabeth Blood, Co-Editor

Elizabeth Blood, is a native of Manchester, NH, and, after living for several years in the Midwest and then the South, returned to her native Granite State in 2008.  The daughter of church musician parents, she has enjoyed participating in worship as a singer, pianist and organist from a very early age. She holds a Bachelor of Music degree from Northwestern University (Theory) and two Masters of Music degrees from Florida State University (Accompanying and Opera Coaching).

From 2008-2016, Elizabeth served as Cantor at Christ the King Lutheran Church in Nashua, NH where she was the organist, directed the Adult and Handbell Choirs, and coordinated all aspects of the Music Ministry.  She has served churches in FL, GA, and IL and in denominations ranging from Presbyterian to Methodist to United Church of Christ.

Currently, Elizabeth serves as a staff accompanist at the University of New Hampshire and is a member of the piano faculty at St. Anselm College and the Manchester Community Music School.  She loves to support music-making in any way she can and enjoys working with a variety of ages and contexts.  She lives in Manchester, NH, with her husband, Romeo, and their cat, Valentina.

Beau Surratt, Co-Editor

A native of Jackson, TN and a church musician, liturgist,

administrator, and communicator, for 20 years, Beau Surratt is

passionate about sharing God’s lavish, inclusive love for all of

creation through building communities in which all experience the

freedom to offer all of who they are to God and the world through

worship, song, and loving service. He currently serves in two roles at

Holy Trinity Lutheran Church (ELCA) in Chicago: as Musician/Ministry

Associate for HTLoop, Holy Trinity’s downtown Chicago worshipping community, and as Administrator for Communications, Worship, and Community Life for the congregation where he spends most of his time at HTLakeview, Holy Trinity’s main campus two blocks from the friendly confines of Chicago’s Wrigley Field.


Beau lives in Evanston, IL with his husband Steve and their cat Magellan and enjoys all things Disney, especially Winnie the Pooh, a growing fountain pen/stationery hobby, and exploring new things and ideas wherever he can find them.