Church apologises over rejection letter to black trainee vicar

Augustine Tanner-Ihm(Photo: Augustine Tanner-Ihm)

The Church of England has apologised after a black trainee vicar was rejected for a post at a white-majority church because he was not deemed a sufficient "match" for the congregation. 

Augustine Tanner-Ihm, from Chicago, said he felt "deep pain" after receiving the notice via email. 

The email noted the 30-year-old's "obvious gifts" for the curacy but said it was nonetheless "not worth pursuing a conversation" because the congregation was "monochrome white working class", the BBC reports. 

"We are not confident there is a sufficient 'match' between you and the particular requirements of that post," the email said.

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

In response, Mr Tanner-Ihm said: "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.

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

The Church of England has since apologised, with Chris Goldsmith, the Church of England's director of ministry, saying that the diocese concerned had "recognised its failure" and sent a written apology to Mr Tanner-Ihm.

"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.

"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."

The Archbishop of Canterbury last week admitted that the Church of England "has its own failings" with regards to racism. 

In a social media video responding to anti-racism protests, he said there was a call on the Church "to be those who set our own house in order and who acknowledge our own historic errors and failings".