So, the conference is almost over. The Konrad Adenauer Stiftung knows how to put on a good debate and the last few days have been very stimulating at lots of levels. As ever, some of the best conversations happen informally – over meals and so on – but follow on from the papers and questioning.
But, so what? Apart from the little I was able to contribute to a German perspective, what do I take back to England?
First, I need (and want) to re-visit Konrad Adenauer himself and will be looking for books at the airport this evening. He was a remarkable man.
Second, looking at the European context in which our various churches live, there are elements of modernity (and, indeed, post-modernity) that we need to explore in England, establishing a renewed confidence in the unique role and place of the church as the valuer of people, creators of space in the public discourse for faith and a content-rich Christian perspective, intelligent critics of art and culture, and relaxed locus of celebration – keeping alive the language of 'home' (to quote Brueggemann).
Third, the encouragement to look through the eyes and listen through the ears of people whose history, culture and context differs from mine – shining a different light on what I think is important and broadening the world.
Fourth, a need early next year (before I leave Bradford and my current post as Bishop) to think deeply and reflectively on the bigger picture gained here and to apply it to the potential for developping the church's mission in England in the changing world of the next couple of decades.
Fifth, a determination to improve my German.
Among other things, of course.