Some people believe that human beings are natural planners. It comes along, they say, with our capacity for hope, our ability to dream and our understanding of our connectedness with others and with the world.

So, planning for the future is something that many of us do on a fairly regular basis. It helps us define what we want to achieve and then focus our energy and resources on realizing that future.

The purpose of all this planning is to ensure that we have thought deeply about what we want our future to be and that we understand what it will take to make it a reality.

And what is it we want our future to be? Ask any high school student who has just been through his or her career planning exercise and they will tell you that answering this question often involves finding the answers to other questions:

What am I passionate about? What do I love doing? What am I good at? What is needed or in demand in the world? Where can I make a contribution?

After answering these questions comes another: What does it takes to make our desired future a reality? This part of the plan is about action. But before that action can begin, we must also ask.

What do I need to know? What experience do I need? What skills must I have? Do I have these now, or will I have to acquire them?

As individuals must think about the future, so must organizations. Organizational planning is called strategic planning and it is much like personal planning. The process is very similar, as are the questions.

The process we are embarking on as a diocese will translate into three elements: our vision, our strategic plan, and our values.

What we want our future to be, will be the diocese's vision. We want our expression of our vision to be is a vivid, compelling and inspiring description of the diocese and its future impact. It should be a statement that people remember because it captures our passion and what is important to us.

Marlene Morris

We may not memorize our vision statement word for word, but the intent and what it is calling us to should resonate in our hearts and minds. The very best expression of our diocesan vision will capture in a few words both what we are working toward and how we live each moment.

Listing what it will take to make our desired future a reality will be our diocese's strategic plan. It outlines the priorities and actions that the diocese will undertake to achieve its vision within a specified period of time.

It should come as no surprise that the larger the organization, the longer it takes to work through the priorities and actions. We have 78 parishes and congregations, close to 200 staff (lay and ordained), and thousands of members. Geographically we cover the entire Fraser Valley and the mainland coast up to Powell River and beyond. The diocese is a large and complex organization. That is why a 10 year planning horizon-to 2018-was chosen.

How we will act to put the plan into action and achieve our vision will reflect our common values. As individuals our values are so much a part of who we are that most of us don't consciously think about them, but it is our values that guide our behavior and our relationships with others. Organizations, on the other hand, must take the time to think about values, and we will do that.

Taken together, the vision, strategic plan and values will constitute our way to the future. It will articulate how we as Anglicans in the diocese of New Westminster believe we best can serve God, in the place where God has given us responsibility. As was said at Synod 2007, "Imagine how our work together could help create a better world."

Marleen Morris is consulting with the diocese on the Ministry Assessment Process. She worships at St. Mary's, Kerrisdale.