In welcoming and thanking attendees of General Seminary’s Garden Party, the Very Rev. Kurt H. Dunkle remarked, “June 22 is, statistically, the day most likely to have perfect weather.” With nary a cloud to block the sun streaming through the green canopy of the Close, the gathered crowd, dressed in everything from Bermuda shorts to linen suits to floral dresses and Panama hats, smiled and laughed in agreement.
This year’s Garden Party, an annual event hosted by General, brought friends of the seminary together with families from the neighborhood to raise awareness and funds for the Chelsea Square Conservancy which maintains the grounds of the Close. The party was preceded by Evensong in the Chapel of the Good Shepherd, and then immediately spilled onto the Close, where ample food, drink and music awaited. The band, a duo that was a change from previous years, played a selection of classic gospel and mid-20th-century jazz standards. Arranged simply for resonator guitar and a percussion kit consisting of kettles and plates played with thimble-clad fingers, the songs paid excellent compliment to the carefree, celebratory mood of the party.
As he concluded his short speech, Dunkle reflected on the rarity of a green space like the Close, and how its continued enjoyment is due to contributions diverse as the gathered crowd. “Every single one of you is a part of this,” he said, taking the time to look around the circle of attendees and repeat a “Thank you” in all directions. When the sun began to dip and the partygoers drifted off into Chelsea, the laughter echoing down the streets was perhaps the best indicator of a good night. Indeed, there was hardly a drop of wine or crumb of fried mac and cheese to spare.