My scrapbook from Wednesday at the 81st General Convention in Louisville comprises San Diego Bishop Susan Brown Snook’s photo of our new presiding bishop-elect, Sean Rowe, at Christ Church Cathedral, flanked by his predecessors, Katharine Jefferts Schori and Michael B. Curry.

Where are my photos? Nonexistent. Because where was my phone? Back at the hotel. Fearful of leaks via social media or text, those running the election urged us to leave our electronics home or, if we felt we just couldn’t do without them, turn them off during the election. I was among a handful of bishops who didn’t plunge into that giant loophole. I ventured forth first thing in the morning without a RAM to my name.

I actually looked forward to spending most of the day dedigitized. During breaks in the action, I chatted with colleagues or prayed in the balcony. No selfies, no emails. I only reached for my absent phone ten or 15 times, tops. After Sean’s election was announced, and officials called the all clear, and about 130 bishops instantly engaged in rephonation of life, I did regret not being able to get my own art. When I got back to my devices about 3:30, they showed how much they had pined for me those seven long hours by erupting with dozens of impossibly urgent messages.

Yet all the better to live fully into an historic moment without the temptation of chronicling it in real time. The walk en masse from the 8:30 a.m. convention center Holy Eucharist to the cathedral, chatting with a wise colleague about the secular world and its discontents. Smiling at the volunteer who held aside the black curtain that officials had hung along the cathedral’s courtyard fence, so no one could see in. Noticing the bishop who passed an armful of chocolate chip cookies through the curtain for the volunteers standing watch. Drinking in the stately Federalist-era beauty of Louisville’s oldest church building, 200 years old this year. Singing “Come Down, O Love Divine” before the first and only ballot.

Sending a delegation to the House of Deputies with the result only to learn that, since it had adjourned until two, we’d have to stay locked up with our box lunches until 2:45, when a delegation arrived to say that deputies had affirmed the election. And then bishops walking back to the convention center and taking our places in the deputies’ visitor’s gallery as Sean and his family arrived and Bishop Curry introduced him.

Our standing ovation briefly dulled all debates and differences, convention’s yes-ing and no-ing over nearly 400 resolutions. Beginnings almost always beget good will. Bishop Rowe’s stirring speech watered the fresh seeds of hope. Our youngest priest when ordained at 23, youngest bishop when consecrated at 32, and youngest bishop ever elected as PB, Bishop Rowe, whose grandfathers were steelworkers, spoke movingly of growing up in western Pennsylvania in the midst of rust belt decline. I got the sense he totally gets what I call the Bruce Springsteen voter, up for grabs this November in swing states and in need of far more attention from our over-educated denomination. Famous as a proponent of adaptive change, the bishop promises to lead by streamlining, consolidating, and innovating. He also invited us to lower our voices and bless Jesus by being more gracious as we do the work of the church, looking beyond our differences to the unity Christ intends.

At an event Tuesday night, as he walked by, I asked how he was doing. My pastoral question (which I extended to all five candidates whenever I saw them all week) got an answer about our work. He said he thought we’d had a good legislative session in the House of Bishops that afternoon. I told him that working on Israel-Palestine resolutions, trying to find language that both houses would affirm, I felt a little like a congressional negotiator. He replied, “That’s sometimes what it takes.” Pushing and pulling, giving and taking, rowing down the Ohio River stroke by stroke for the Lord. Read more about this historic day here; use your phones if you got ‘em.