The Atlantic Seminar in Theological Education (ASTE) met annually in Truro 1969 – 2019 at the Dalhousie Agricultural Campus (formerly the Nova Scotia Agricultural College). Covid 19 had us move to an on-line format, while 2022 brought us back in person at Tatamagouche Centre. 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 30 to 150 participants, with equal numbers of clergy and laity. Participants are primarily over forty, is from Atlantic Canadian, has a post secondary degree, and can be described as 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.
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.