Black Durham trainee vicar denied job at 'white' church

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AugustineImage source, Augustine Tanner-Ihm
Image caption,
Augustine Tanner-Ihm is from Chicago and wants to work for the Church of England

A black trainee vicar was rejected for a job by church bosses who said his potential parishioners were "monochrome white working class".

In an email sent in response to his application, Augustine Tanner-Ihm was told he "might feel uncomfortable" in the curacy role at the parish.

The email said despite his "obvious gifts", it was "not worth pursuing a conversation" about the vacancy in southern England.

The Church of England has apologised.

Mr Tanner-Ihm, who is from Chicago and is a Reverend Seminarian in the United States, applied for a role as a curate at a church in the south of England.

In response, he got an email saying: "We are not confident there is a sufficient 'match' between you and the particular requirements of that post.

"The demographic of the parish is monochrome white working class, where you might feel uncomfortable."

Image caption,
He was sent this email in response to his application

Mr Tanner-Ihm, 30, who is studying at Durham University, said his reaction to the letter in February "was pain, deep pain".

"As an African-American man from Chicago, with parents and grandparents who lived during the civil rights movement, I was under the understanding that my race has nothing to do with my ability to minister," he said.

"I think the church has institutional issues with [racism]."

Image caption,
Augustine Tanner-Ihm has two theology degrees from St John's College in Durham

The Rt Revd Chris Goldsmith, the Church of England's director of ministry, said: "We take very seriously any allegation that a curacy post, or any other position, may have been denied to someone on the grounds of their ethnic heritage."

He said a member of his team had "reached out" to Mr Tanner-Ihm to learn about his experiences, adding: "We have also established that the diocese concerned has recognised its failure in this and sent a written apology to [him].

"We fully recognise that the Church of England has a lot more work to do to become a place where our leadership is representative of the rich heritages of all the people of England."

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