"Discovering God's Future Together" is the theme of the Diocesan Synod this year, at which clergy and delegates from across the diocese will be asked to think hard about the diocese's future over the next decade.

Marion Best of the United Church will be the ecumenical visitor at Diocesan Synod

A proposed diocesan strategic plan, "Plan 2018," which will outline the broad stroke priorities of the diocese, will be submitted for debate and approval to the approximately 400 priests, deacons, and lay delegates, who will make up the 107th Synod at Capilano College on May 30 and 31.

The strategic planning process was authorized by last year's Diocesan Synod, and has been guided by a committee co-chaired by Jane Osler, chair of the Diocesan Communications Committee, and the Very Rev. Peter Elliott, diocesan dean.

Two sets of regional meetings-19 in all-have taken place over the past year with the assistance of "Parish Champions" in most of the diocese's parishes. Assisted by Marlene Morris and Associates, a strategic planning firm, the champions were charged with inviting a variety of parishioners to the table to discern diocesan opinion at the grass roots. About 400 people took part in the process.

Input from those meetings was reviewed at a meeting of clergy on April 11, the Diocesan Council on April 29, and is scheduled to go to a general meeting at St. Mary's Kerrisdale on May 3.

While much work remained at TOPIC's deadline for the May issue, Co-chair Osler told the Diocesan Council in early April that general themes were emerging. Anglicans in this diocese want to engage with issues of poverty, and in particular homelessness. They are concerned about the natural environment. They want responses to be based on our Christian Faith. They feel the diocese needs to pay more attention to its falling membership numbers. They feel we must streamline diocesan structures and how parishes are supported.

Also looking to the future, a number of parishes that have been involved in the diocesan Ministry Assessment Process (the 'MAP') will tell their stories. The goal of the process is to end up with healthy parishes engaged in their own distinctive Christian ministry-and it might result in more work by parishes acting together, or merging, or even in some cases closing so that their resources can be used elsewhere.

But not all of the 2008 Synod will involve planning for the future. There will be a celebration of the Anglican Church Women, presentation of the Communication Exchange Awards, a report from the Council of the North, and presentations from the Environmental Unit, the Stewardship Development Committee, the Justice and Peace Unit, and Diocesan Youth.

Dr. Marion Best, past moderator of the United Church of Canada and past chair of the board of the Vancouver School of Theology will serve as an ecumenical guest, speaking to Synod and later giving her impressions of what the Synod has done.