The Atlantic Seminar in Theological Education (ASTE) has met annually in Truro since 1969 on the Dalhousie Agricultural Campus (formerly the Nova Scotia Agricultural College). Initially supported by organizations such as the Atlantic University Chaplains Association, the Atlantic School of Theology, and Acadia Divinity School to provide a source of Continuing Education, ASTE has blossomed into a self-supporting ecumenical body serving educational needs for both clergy and laity. The group ranges from about 60 to 150 participants, with about equal numbers of clergy and laity. Participants are mostly over forty and the female to male ratio is approximately fifty/fifty. The average participant is Atlantic Canadian, has at least one post secondary degree, and can be described as fairly liberal, well-informed, curious and open.
The seminar takes place over six days in June, from Sunday evening until Friday noon. Each day begins with a common worship time, followed by lectures and discussion. Each lecturer delivers one lecture each day, Monday through Thursday, plus a short wrap-up on Friday morning. The 8 main lectures are followed by small group discussions, in which the lecturers are invited (but not obligated) to participate, and then a plenary session in which questions from the small groups are brought to the floor for response from the lecturer. On Tuesday evening, we arrange an event that compliments our theme, often led by local presenters. Monday evening and Wednesday afternoon are left free to encourage community building. On Thursday evening we gather for a 'fun night' where participants share their gifts and talents.
We have addressed a wide variety of topics over the years, inviting presenters who are considered experts in their field. Past topics include: Cultivating the Inner Life of the Christian, Congregational Transformation, and The Convergence of Science and Religion. Past presenters include: Douglas Hall, Marcus Borg, John Dominic Crossan, Joanna Dewey and M.T. Winter. View a list of past presenters and theme statements.
The ASTE provides an informal and safe environment for all participants, both registrants and lecturers, to interact with each other. The sense of community which grows from this interaction and from various activities during the week has become a hallmark of the ASTE. Its significance is indicated by the fact that many of our registrants are long time returnees, and several lecturers have also indicated a desire to return in subsequent years. (Marcus Borg, one of the presenters for the 2010 Seminar, was appearing for the fourth time.)
Executive and Steering Committees
A Steering Committee, led by the Executive, both elected or affirmed each year, oversees the operation of the Seminar.
2018-2019 Committee Members
Vice Chair Jim Wicks
Past Chair Tara Ann Gourson
Secretary John A.C. Wilson
Registrar Max Gourson
Treasurer Trent Cleveland-Thompson
Honourary Member: Rev. Dr. Douglas MacEachern