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. John-Westley’s love for music began at the age of nine and he has followed this passion for over two decades. As an accomplished musician, he has an incredible talent to learn an instrument within days of picking it up and finds great joy in spreading knowledge and a deep love of music to the next generation.

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 ( and is also the co-editor/co-founder of Church Music Forward ( and serves on the board of directors for the Mississippi Conference on Church Music and Liturgy ( 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.

John-Westley finds ultimate satisfaction in spending time with Daylie-Lark. Daylie-Lark is a four-year-old Lab and Aussie mix.  John-Westley spends a lot of time in the kitchen perfecting new recipes for his vegetarian diet, as well as baking some decadent desserts to share with friends and family.  His happy place in life is the outdoors; it is in the open space of the trees, grass, and air that he truly connects with God and finds inspiration.

Email John-Westley at: [email protected]

Martha Jones Burford, Co-Editor/ Co-Founder

With a pianist, antique dealer mother and Episcopal priest father who held a PhD in music theory, youngster Martha Jones Burford planned to become a therapist. But, the music and the Church took hold, and she pursued music and writing at Duke University as an undergraduate continuing with post-graduate work at Duke Divinity School and Virginia Commonwealth University. Early relationships that influenced her were with Ray Glover, Alec Wyton, the (now) Rt. Rev. Anne Hodges-Copple, and the Rev. John Westerhoff.

Over the years, 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. A member of AAM, she is on the Committee for Liturgy and Church Music and the Committee for Stewardship of Creation in the Diocese of Virginia, and is a member of the Task Force for Congregational Song for the SCLM. She leads music for a variety of diocesan retreats, as well as for groups such as The Chrysalis Institute. In recent years, St. James Music Press has published some of her compositions.

In her long tenure at her current parish, she is most delighted by hearing repeatedly from visitors about the joy they encounter in this congregation that wholeheartedly SINGS a wide variety of music expressing the breadth and depth of the Communion of Saints across time and place.

In her time at Holy Comforter, she has worked closely with nine priests, most of whom have very nice things to say about her. Her rotating mantras include lines from favorite hymns such as these: “How can we keep from singing,” any line from Fred Pratt Green’s “When in our Music God is glorified,” and “We the Lord’s people, heart and voice uniting.”

Triva: in all of her years, Martha has only thrown up in church once, and the priest kindly submitted to her that it was probably his sermon that provoked the unfortunate event.

Email Martha at: [email protected]