Daniel Ackerley following dual paths to Christian calling. (Picture: keith Blundy)

A Sunderland based Funeral Director will be Ordained as a Deacon in the Church of England this month.

Daniel Ackerley, 27, from Stockton, will be ordained as Deacon in the Diocese of Durham at a ceremony in Durham Cathedral on the 30th June, leading him to follow two paths of Christian ministry lived out as a funeral director and as a priest in the Church of England.

The roles which are mutually exclusive will see Daniel continuing to work in his day job as the Principal Funeral Director at John Duckworth Funeral Directors in Sunderland and parish ministry at other times in the Parish of Croxdale, Tudhoe and Merrington.

Daniel explains that his sense of calling came whilst he was at school and a chorister in Stockton. He said: “I became a chorister at St. Peter’s Stockton when I was about 10 or 11, and from that, I had this love of Church, of God, of liturgy and my Christian faith grew out of that point there. I wasn’t baptised as an infant. It was something that I chose myself when I was about twelve or thirteen.

“My faith was deepened when I then became involved with the Christian youth group run at a local Methodist church, and at school at Ian Ramsey in Stockton I was involved with the chapel and I was involved with leading assemblies and serving at the school Communion services.

“I think it was at that point that people began saying to me have you thought about being a vicar? As a young child that was a petrifying and daunting thought. But suddenly everything just seemed to make sense and I couldn’t imagine doing anything else in the world. I didn’t have an epiphany moment or anything like that, It was just little things that kept bringing me back to this place, that ordination was the right thing for me.”

Daniel became a funeral director through a love of music and playing the organ at church and crematorium services. He said: “When I left college I worked part-time as a musician so I was playing for lots of funerals. Being at the crematorium, I was watching people use their skills and their professional life to care for those in their darkest moments, and I felt called to do the same. I was too young to consider ordination so I found my way into being a funeral director through music really, something I have been doing for 9 years now.”

Daniel says that the two paths are connected explaining that they are really two parallel paths of Christian Ministry. He said: “I see funeral directing as part of my Christian vocation and I believe it’s where God wants me to be and I really thought very hard about that over the last few years. People often think that if you’re young, you are going to end up being a full-time parish priest and that wasn’t something that felt right for me. I didn’t feel that God was calling me in that direction. So I have this call of being both ordained and a funeral director. I’m not going to be coming to work in my dog collar or do my own funerals or anything like that, my formal ministry will be very much attached to my curacy parishes, but I’ll continue to be a Christian funeral director during the day.

“For now that seems like the right thing for me to be doing. I can’t see myself not being involved with funeral directing. I see myself holding these two vocations together. Obviously, if God changes my heart and mind, and I’m very open to that, but at the moment I feel a really strong sense of call that I’m in the right place.

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