Telling the stories of the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, NZ and Polynesia

Wellington celebrates Bishop Ana

The Diocese of Wellington hit full celebration mode last weekend as they gathered to support the Right Reverend Anashuya Fletcher to be ordained and installed Assistant Bishop of Wellington on Saturday 13 April 2024.
• Watch the livestream of Anashuya Fletcher's episcopal ordination

Julanne Clarke-Morris  |  16 Apr 2024  |

The Wellington Cathedral of St Paul thronged with well-wishers on Saturday 13 April as 600+ people turned out to celebrate the Rt Rev Anashuya Fletcher’s ordination and installation as Assistant Bishop of Wellington.

Bishop Anashuya Fletcher, who currently serves along her husband Rev Paul Fletcher as Co-Priest in Charge of St Peter’s Gonville in Whanganui, was ordained this weekend in an almost three hour-long festival Eucharist at St Paul’s Cathedral Wellington.

Archbishop Don Tamihere, Archbishop Sione Ulu'ilakepa and Archbishop Philip Richardson were all there to receive Ana's declarations and promises as she came forward to join the house of bishops last Saturday. Archbishop Philip was moved by Ana’s response to her new role, 

“It felt incredibly authentic to me. What I saw was a person who wasn’t seeking this kind of call or responsibility, but who has embraced it.” 

“And I was impacted by the way they have clearly worked through this calling as a family – in both the beauty and the cost of that. I will pray for the four of them.”

Bishop of Te Hui Amorangi o Te Upoko o Te Ika, the Rt Rev Waitohiariki Quayle presented Bishop Ana to the Archbishops on Saturday. 

Bishop Wai welcomes the opportunity to work alongside a sister bishop in Wellington again. 

“We’ve only just met, but Ana is like a breath of fresh air. She’s lovely and I look forward to working with her.” 

Bishop of Wellington Justin Duckworth welcomed his Assistant Bishop with enthusiasm this weekend, saying Ana not only demonstrates perseverance and resilience, but she is someone who has embraced Anglican tradition, and reimagines it anew for this point in history. 

“I think for me it’s about a fresh move of the Spirit, and a hope for the future. Her ordination is a symbol of a wider invitation from God for our Church.”

“Ana is able to weave multiple strands together in ways we haven’t seen before, gathering together old and new aspects of our tradition to make something new.” 

Anashuya Fletcher (39) was born in Sri Lanka in 1984. A year later, Sri Lanka’s civil war led her Tamil Christian parents to move their young family to Aotearoa New Zealand. 

Arriving in Auckland, Anashuya’s Methodist Dad and Anglican Mum, Niranjan and Suvendrini Richards, joined Mt Roskill Baptist which became Ana’s first spiritual home.

At the age of fifteen, with a boost from Easter Camp, Ana made the conscious decision to live her life for Jesus. As she supported her friends, and took leadership in youth ministry, Ana came to realise that her compassion for others and desire to end suffering in the world was shaping her as a “justice-oriented” Christian.

Later, moving from school to university, Ana studied law and commerce, looking to play her part in rescuing people from modern slavery, and to protect as many as she could from falling prey to future perpetrators.

In 2008-2009 with her Bachelor of Commerce and LLB complete, Ana joined International Justice Mission (IJM), going first to Washington DC, then on to India to serve as a legal fellow for IJM in its work protecting impoverished communities from violence and slavery.

For Ana, her time in IJM’s office in South Asia revealed the scale of human suffering that exists in the world – but also its deplorable cause.

“That experience was a combination of incredible and inspiring, but also gut-wrenching and horrendous.” 

“...I saw that in this world there are people who are suffering terribly, entirely because of the human depravity of others... There are people who choose to cause suffering, and choose not to alleviate it.”

Coming home from India, and intending to go back, Ana returned to Mt Roskill Baptist still filled with urgency for the work she had been doing. There she met the new Assistant Pastor, Paul Fletcher who shared her conviction for serving those on the margins, but who also encouraged Ana and other young adults in their church to consider what it looked like to be doing this in their own community.

Many robust conversations later, Ana and Paul grew to be good friends and joined in local mission together.

Instead of a return to South Asia, Ana’s focus on serving the poor became part of her daily life in missional communities, first apart from Paul in Mt Roskill Baptist’s “Homes of Hope” and then after they married, together where she and Paul fostered youth alongside their growing family in Mt Roskill, then Onehunga. Over the past seven years in Whanganui their missional community life has also extended to replanting an Anglican church at St Peter’s Whanganui. 

Looking back it’s eleven years since Ana and Paul first joined Urban Vision, which was how Ana met Jenny and Justin Duckworth and began her journey of mission and mentoring with them. 

At the Cathedral this week, Jenny Duckworth said she admires many of Ana’s leadership qualities, particularly highlighting her forthrightness, her loyalty and her flexibility. 

“And Ana has a prophetic edge...but she’s not a hopeless dreamer.

She’s super strategic, and while she can see the realities in front of her, she can also see the potential.”

Jenny says Ana is a wise leader too, because she knows her own strengths, and can recognise her limitations. 

“She’s not afraid to partner with others, to work closely with others and pull in their gifts... she holds a justice perspective and is aware of empowering people who would otherwise be left on the edge.”

In tandem with her mission at home, Ana has intertwined her paid work with her ministry. 

Over the years she has used her legal skills working as a solicitor in an Auckland law firm, used her hospitality smarts, and engaged her bridge-building skills in many spaces including as a Community Network Administrator in Mt Roskill (backed by the Ministry of Social Development), as Manager of a Citizen’s Advice Bureau and from 2018-2020 as the NZ Church Missionary Society’s Intercultural Communities Enabler.

Bishop of Nelson Rt Rev Steve Maina was head of the NZ Church Missionary Society during Ana’s time with them. He is delighted to see her enter a new season of leadership and sees qualities in her that he thinks will serve her well. 

“Ana is passionate about working for reconciliation and peace.” 

“She’s determined, she has an absolutely sharp mind, and she has a real heart for people of all cultures.” 

Ana’s time spent in hospitality, and her concern to feed people well, showed up in the generous full meals that followed her ordination on Saturday, where Indian, Malaysian and Chinese dishes were provided by Interfaith Network friends and the Anglican Chinese Mission.

Ana’s work in hospitality also led to her experiments with cafe-based social enterprise, which she first concieved as a way to access work experience for young people unable to enter the workforce. 

Several years later, Ana helped  co-found Common Good Coffee, a business designed to go easy on the earth (organic production) counter unfair production overseas (Fair Trade), while at the same time significantly contributing towards Joyya; an organisation that exists to spark good in places impacted by modern slavery and extreme poverty.

Ordained deacon in 2017 and priest in 2018, Ana says that her new Anglican ways have firmly taken root. She loves the beauty she finds in the way Anglicans celebrate the Eucharist and she loves the sense of a bigger call, one that assumes a responsibility for care beyond the members of a congregation.

"I think when you're Anglican you are part of something much bigger." 

“As Anglicans there's a sense of having whakapapa that links you both historically and contemporaneously across the world.” 

Ana loves the Anglican connection to place and its understanding of local parishes as mission fields, which gels with one of her favourite quotes from Abraham Kuyper,

“There is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ, who is Sovereign over all, does not cry, Mine!”

After her ordination rites on 13 April, Bishop Ana spoke to the flock she will now help to shepherd, sharing her reflections from the lead up to her special day. 

“Over and over again I have been overwhelmed with gratitude for the legacy that I get to step into, because I’m so aware that I’m only here today because of the faithfulness of other followers of Jesus.”

Bishop Ana went on to acknowledge those who had prayed for her, discipled her and mentored her in the faith, reaching back to her late great-grandmother (whose ruby bejewells Ana’s episcopal ring), her parents, her husband and her children, Ishmael and Eilidh, and all those who have encouraged her to respond to her call from within the Urban Vision whānau and the wider family of the church.

“Today I stand here before you so thankful, so full of gratitude for those of you who have done the journey with me already – and I’m so excited and expectant for what God is going to do through us, together.”