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UK News

Church of England respond to tweet where black man is rejected from curacy in white parish

by Cara Bentley

The Church of England has responded to an email that appears to show the Church rejecting a black man as a curate in a majority white parish. 

Augustine Tanner-Ihm, a black 29-year-old man, posted on Twitter on Thursday a screenshot of an email he received which explained why he would not be given a curacy post in a particular parish, noting that he was one of eight rejections to be a curate. 

Curacy in the Church of England is a post taken up after ordination, often supporting the vicar pastorally and getting preaching experience before they may become a vicar themselves. 

In Mr Tanner-Ihm's rejection email, the parish and any names were redacted but it read: "I am afraid that despite some of your obvious gifts, we do not think it worth pursuing a conversation with you about the curacy position at [omitted]. We are not confident that there is sufficient 'match' between you and the particular requirements of that post. 

"Firstly, the demographic of the parish is monochrome white working class, where you might feel uncomfortable. Second, we feel you would be best suited to a curacy with a more experienced incumbent than the one in [omitted]." 


The Tweet has been shared over 270 times with many Church of England members and clergy expressing their shock and disappointment in the comments. 

Mr Tanner-Ihm is in his final year of theological college at Cranmer Hall, St John’s College, Durham, and is a finalist in Theology Slam, a speaking competition endorsed by the Archbishop of Canterbury, in which he was going to speak about theology and race (before the event was cancelled because of Coronavirus).

He wrote alongside the photo: "@JustinWelby, @churchofengland Bishops make statements of #BlackLivesMatter this week, I'm still struck by this I received & many more from Diocesan Staff this year. Also, the 8 different dioceses that rejected me for a curacy. I guess not all black lives matter."

The Rt Revd Chris Goldsmith, the Church of England's Director of Ministry, told Premier: "We take very seriously any allegation that a curacy post may have been denied to someone primarily on the grounds of their ethnic heritage.  

"We urgently want to seek clarity from the diocese which sent him the letter as to why it contains statements that are plainly unacceptable.    

"We 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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