AUGUSTINE TANNER-IHM has been invited to serve his title post at St James and Emmanuel Church, Didsbury, in the diocese of Manchester, subject to securing a visa.
Mr Tanner-Ihm, who is African-American but has lived in the UK for the past nine years, was the winner of the 2020 Theology Slam competition, during which he spoke of being told by a diocesan director of ordinands that he would not suit a curacy in a “monochrome white working-class, where you might feel uncomfortable” (News, 26 June 2020).
Mr Tanner-Ihm completed ordination training at Cranmer Hall, Durham, last June, but had experienced difficulty in securing a title post after being told by numerous parishes that they could not afford a curate, he said on Tuesday. The situation had been exacerbated by the pandemic and his having not yet secured a visa. The lack of a title post meant that he was not ordained last year.
Since the start of this year, however, Home Office rules have been changed so that ministers of religion no longer have to prove that they can do a job better than a British person, which makes it more likely that he will secure a visa. He hopes to obtain a visa in time for his ordination, which is scheduled for 4 July.
Furthermore, he said, the Archbishop of York, the Most Revd Stephen Cottrell, who was Mr Tanner-Ihm’s sending bishop when he was Bishop of Chelmsford, and the Bishop of Manchester, Dr David Walker, had worked with the Ministry Division to secure funding for the post from the Church Commissioners, as they had done for other title posts in the diocese.
The St James and Emmanuel newsletter reported last week: “We’re delighted to announce that Bishop David [Walker] has written to Augustine to formally invite him to serve his title post at St James and Emmanuel subject to visa. Please pray for him and the visa situation.”
Mr Tanner-Ihm said on Tuesday that he knew the parish well, having completed a placement there in Easter 2019, and he was excited about serving in an “inclusive Evangelical parish”.