Anglican unity, what does it mean?

A reflection from college administrator Jeroham Meléndez about his time on the Standing Committee of the Anglican Consultative Council.

Jeroham Meléndez, Senzo Mbhele, Heidin Kunoo, Timothy (a steward from the local province of West Africa) at the Independence Arch in Accra, Ghana

From February 10th to 20th, members of most of the 42 provinces of the Anglican Communion and many other guests gathered in Accra Ghana to celebrate the 18th meeting of the Anglican Consultative Council (ACC). 
This was my third and last meeting as I completed my term on the Standing Committee of the ACC to which I was elected in 2016. I’m still processing the experiences of this chapter of my life and how it will strengthen my faith.  

Since the Lambeth Conference, in August 2023, we have been presented with the question, what brings us together as Anglicans? A very common response used to be the liturgy, but that is only true in some traditional expressions of Anglicanism. At times, our differences seem profound when theological statements on human sexuality are occasionally formulated (in recent years there hasn’t been much room for those discussions because some considered that speaking about them would generate greater disunity).  

In my personal experience, however, I can say that I was able to live and enjoy a true union. I and many others were brought together as members of one large family. How and when did this happen? I wouldn’t say that it was mainly during the liturgical celebrations (though we had many), rather I would say that most of the time I felt this unity when we were simply coexisting as people. Sometimes during table discussions while listening and sharing experiences from different contexts in light of the scriptures. But often it was when we were stripped of prejudices and theological positions, engaging in casual conversations, sharing a meal, or experiencing the most basic and quotidian emotions; hunger, sleep, tiredness, joy, illusion, hope, when singing, praying and sometimes even dancing. On several occasions, I was able to see many people from provinces with different positions on the known issues that supposedly divide us celebrating the love of God.  

The truth is that most people, Anglicans, around the world, don’t know much about things like the Anglican Consultative Council, the Lambeth Conference, the Primates’ Meetings or the Archbishop of Canterbury, perhaps they don’t even care much about it, but what they do know and care about is trying to understand where and how God can fit, in the midst of the anxieties in their lives.  

 Perhaps the true focus of unity in Anglicanism is simply yet greatly God, the need for him in our lives. Perhaps most of the answers we’re looking for are in the local community, far from the struggles of power and structure, where faith is shaped, and nourished.