Church Music Forward

"Preserving Traditions with Imagination"

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Meet the team

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Martha Burford

Editor and 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.

Westley Hodges

Editor and Co-Founder

Westley Hodges, a native of New Orleans, currently resides in Chicago, IL. Westley’s love for music began at the age of nine, and he has followed this passion for over two decades. With a great love for music, Westley has performed and directed music at scores of churches and venues; additionally, he has been a self-managing music instructor since 1999. He earned his AA in Music Education from Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College, Perkinston, MS, studied Clarinet Performance at Delta State University, Cleveland, MS, and earned a BA in Liberal Studies with a Minor in Women and Gender Studies from the University of Illinois—Springfield.


Currently, he is the Director of Music at The Annunciation of Our Lady Episcopal Church, Gurnee, IL (www.annunciationgurnee.org), and on the board of directors for the Mississippi Conference on Church Music and Liturgy (www.mississippiconference.org). Before serving at Annunciation, he served at St. Patrick’s Episcopal Church, Long Beach, MS, St. Aidan’s Episcopal Church, Alpharetta, GA, St. Joseph’s Episcopal Church, McDonough, GA, and St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Peoria, IL.


One of Westley’s greatest joys in life is spending time with Daylie-Lark. Daylie-Lark is a four-year-old Lab and Aussie mix.

Westley spends a lot of time in the kitchen perfecting new recipes 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.

Michael Sanchez

Editor

R. Michael Sanchez was born--to his great surprise!--in Walla Walla, Washington and grew up in nearby Milton-Freewater, Oregon. He attended Mt. Hood Community College on a jazz trumpet scholarship and earned his Bachelorís Degree and teaching credentials at Portland State University. During his time at MHCC, Michael started studying voice and has served as a tenor section leader at First Congregational United Church of Christ in Portland, Oregon.


Michael has served as Music Director at St. Paulís Episcopal Church in Oregon City, Oregon and currently serves as Handbell Choir director and Verger at Christ Church Episcopal Parish in Lake Oswego, Oregon. He is also on the Board of Directors for the Vergersí Guild of the Episcopal Church.


Keeping a modest performance schedule, Michael plays trumpet in pit orchestras, chamber ensembles, symphonic bands, and a variety of other groups. He sings in studio sessions, private functions, choirs, musical theatre, at church (of course!), and other events around the Portland Metro area.


Michael has worked as a music engraver for a major sacred music publishing company and regularly arranges, orchestrates, and engraves music for clients in the US and Canada.

Currently, Michael is a Band Director in the Camas School District in Camas, Washington.  

Abby Schoppe

Editor

A native of Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom, Abby Schoppe currently lives in Andover, MA, where she serves as Director of Music at Faith Lutheran Church (ELCA). When she was in high school, Abby began serving as the church organist in the Roman Catholic parish where she grew up; in the 20+ years since then, she has served primarily in Episcopal and Lutheran churches. Abby holds a Bachelor’s degree in Piano Performance from Carnegie Mellon University, where she also minored in Accompanying and received her certification in Piano Pedagogy. In addition to her work at Faith, she maintains a large private piano studio. Abby has also sung in the 6 PM choir at Trinity Church (Episcopal), Copley Square, for the past decade. She believes passionately that God calls all God’s creation to sing and believes that her primary role as a sacred musician is as an enabler of congregational song.

Jeremy Sullivan

Editor

Jeremy Sullivan has enjoyed the rarity of calling Virginia home despite being reared in a military family. He 'caught' piano early on and was observed picking out melodies from hymns sung in worship on his grandmother's instrument. His dream was to be another "Mr. Holland" from the movie, Mr. Holland's Opus, except as a choral musician. A sense of calling to a vocation in ministry after his first year of college brought a shift to his studies and he completed his undergraduate degree in Church Music at Trevecca Nazarene University in 2001. He earned his Master's of Divinity from Asbury Theological Seminary in 2005 receiving the Hoyt Hickman Award for liturgical scholarship and practice. He was later ordained an Elder in the Church of the Nazarene.

Jeremy served two Nazarene congregations in Virginia and ministered as a hospice chaplain before joining other "evangelicals on the Canterbury Trail" finding a new home in the Episcopal Church. Embracing bi-vocational ministry, he teaches in a two-way Spanish/English immersion elementary school and is Director of Music at St. Paul's Episcopal Church, Rock Creek Parish, Washington, D.C.

In addition to avoiding the temptation to become a Pinterest-perfect teacher, he enjoys Metro rides in the capital region, long walks through D.C., and uncomplicated knitting projects. A contemplative with a love for monasticism, he craves prayerful silence as much as he delights in sacred song.