From Primark to priesthood: Daniel’s path

Published: Tuesday June 4, 2024

Daniel Newman with his wife Tammy and two children

We’re looking forward to this year’s ordinations, to be held in Gloucester Cathedral on 29 and 30 June. Over the coming weeks, we will be catching up with some of the people preparing to be ordained as a deacon.

Ordination is the Church’s official recognition of a person’s sense of calling to be a priest or deacon and this first step into ordination will give them the authority to do certain things in the name of God and the Church.

Since he was 16, Daniel Newman had been working for Primark and had risen through the ranks to become a manager in the Gloucester, Cheltenham, and Swindon branch of Primark. A self-proclaimed agnostic, he became curious about faith but felt the Church was too dogmatic to hold the answers he sought.

All that changed in Daniel’s mid-20s, when he took the plunge and went to a service in his local church in Barton and Tredworth, where a long meaningful conversation with the vicar altered his path forever.

“I knew there was something beyond my immediate reality,” he recalls. “At the time, I felt like Christianity was lacking as a spiritual answer. I made a wrongful presumption that the Church was too rigid in its beliefs.”

A turning point came one Sunday morning when he walked into his parish church. After the service, the Revd Dr Tom Wilson approached him, giving him the chance to start to explore and question faith. Daniel kept returning, and he joined a small bible study group which provided him the space to discuss spirituality openly.

“People can have encounters with God outside of church. When you’re on your own, it can be quite short-lived. In a community, it becomes much bigger and ongoing. You can talk it through, develop, and be encouraged,” he said.

His involvement grew as he took on roles in the PCC and joined Relentless, a young adult café-style group that discussed topics like science and religion, evolution, and atonement. His new vicar, the Revd Juliet Jensen, recommended that he went to a vocation day, and suddenly Daniel knew where God was leading him.

He applied to be considered for ordination, and while that long process was taking place, he completed an Introduction to Christian Ministry course at Cuddesdon, Gloucester and Hereford ministry training college, studying theology in the evenings after the shop closed.

He reflected: “It gave me a taster of what it would be like to work in ministry, and I absolutely loved it.”

With the support and love of his wife Tammy and their children Jocelyn and Ezra, Daniel began full-time ministry training at Westcott House in Cambridge.

Daniel explains how his view of the Church has utterly changed.

“When I was in church, my eye was always drawn to a cross above the altar back. The design looks like four trees, shaped in a cross.

“To me, it represents the Church being something ancient, but very much alive. It has deep roots that dig into the soil of the earth, but also has fresh shoots and saplings and leaves, and goes through cycles of life.”

Daniel will be ordained deacon to the Benefice of Badgeworth, Shurdington and Witcombe with Bentham on 30 June at 10.15am in Gloucester Cathedral.

The word Leadership spelt out, with Committed to Transformation written underneath.





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