Trajan is a 2001 graduate of Harvard College in Cambridge, Massachusetts with a degree in Computer Science and a 2007 graduate of Princeton Theological Seminary where he earned a Master of Divinity degree and received the John T. Galloway Prize in Expository Preaching. While at Princeton, Trajan was a member of their Touring Choir offering musical leadership to area churches. Trajan also served as the Pastoral Intern at First Presbyterian Church in Titusville, New Jersey where he preached monthly, planned worship, provided pastoral care and taught weekly adult education classes and Bible studies.
In addition to his pastoral work, Trajan served as 2nd Lieut. and Firefighter for the Princeton Fire Department in New Jersey and collaborated in ministry with Presbyterian Disaster Assistance and Habitat for Humanity. In 2006 Trajan conceived, planned, and led a PDA Princeton Seminary student trip to rebuild following Hurricane Katrina. The summer of 2007 he assisted the Construction Supervisor for Habitat in the Trenton area. In this role Trajan supervised workers, developed volunteer relationships, instructed and led teams in construction tasks and assisted with web presence of an active inner-city affordable housing ministry.
Trajan and his wife, the Reverend Sarah Iliff McGill, have one infant son, Scott Wilberforce McGill. During Sarah’s tenure as Associate Pastor for Fair Oaks Presbyterian Church in Oak Park, Illinois, Trajan has worked as a Senior Business Systems Analyst and Information Technology Consultant. During this time Trajan completed one unit of Clinical Pastoral Education at Advocate Lutheran General Hospital in Park Ridge, Illinois and preached regularly at churches throughout the Chicago area. Trajan is eligible for ordination upon receiving a call. Below are two of Trajan’s reflections and statement of faith from his Personal Information Form.
Describe a moment in your recent ministry that you recognize as one of success and fulfillment.
When serving as overnight, on-call hospital chaplain during Clinical Pastoral Education, I encountered many unpredictable ministry opportunities. I recall an occasion where a patient's family asked me to pray with them just prior to his removal from life support. Having some time to prepare and knowledge of their church affiliation, I quickly consulted appropriate denominational books of worship and assembled a brief prayer service which I led a while later.
The service became a very powerful event for all involved. In that short moment, people wept, and prayed, and became ready to let go of their loved one. I witnessed the deep sorrow and equally deep sense of meaning encountered when we suddenly, undeniably come face-to-face with oft-avoided questions of existence and this reality is marked and given shape by an expression of faith. Particularly having experience with this family's church tradition, I could draw on ritual and language I knew would be familiar. I spoke words which, by echoing words they had heard over and again, could go far beyond that moment and call into the present all they had heard through their lives in the church. Ritual that may have
been abstract was now infused with meaning, and a Gospel hope, absorbed previously, came alive when heard with someone beloved dying before them.
I was strongly moved by seeing this spiritual effect taking place around me, and in fact this experience was one which greatly influenced my sense of call to ministry.
Describe the ministry setting to which you believe God is calling you.
Experiences such as that mentioned in the previous question have made me strongly aware of the reality of need in the human condition and the depth of the answer brought to it by the Gospel. Offering into people's daily lives a well-rounded, sustained exposure to hope in Christ gives them something that goes with them into every crisis, physical or spiritual. Seeing this has grown my desire to bring the comfort of faith to people in crisis, but even more to plant seeds of this comfort before ever reaching that point. Moreover, people often lack sufficient Christian education to hold faith confidently when encountering the world's skeptical questions. I feel a need to help people find tools with which they can understand faith more deeply and hold onto it in the face of intellectual, cultural, and emotional challenges. I understand my call therefore to be a setting where explanation and exploration through preaching and teaching are significant components of my role.
Yet my experience in emergency and charitable services has shown me the Gospel is not something academic. I hope to find a setting where my work involves helping people live out the continuous process of faith where understanding helps us fruitfully love our neighbors, and where service in turn feeds our understanding. Thinking guides doing, and doing informs thinking; so the jobs of exploring theology and exploring people's own callings of service go hand-in-hand. I believe my call is to do both together.
Statement of Faith
I believe there is one God, in three persons, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. This God is almighty, Creator of the universe, source of all beauty, ultimate font of love, and final arbiter of righteousness and justice. God created the world and humankind good, the latter in God’s own image, and is rightfully loved, feared, worshipped, and served.
Sin and evil, however, are present today in the experiences and actions of human beings, who are subject to suffering, hardship, and death, and who subject one another to these things continually. We have, by existence in a humanity and world thus corrupted, inherited this state, in which we participate and to which we are enslaved, turning us away from the source of all life and toward sin, whose end is death.
God, however, loving us “while we were yet sinners”, has not abandoned humanity in return. Nearly all of scripture is the story of God’s presence with humankind after it had found sin. This God was known to Abraham, Israel, and Moses, and was born as the Son, Jesus of Nazareth, fully human and fully God, to bring restoration and deliverance from injustice, sin, and death.
Without sin, Jesus lived a ministry of teaching, leading, and healing, spreading a Gospel of salvation through faith. He was tried by religious and civil authorities, accepted death by crucifixion, and was raised to life by God. Thusly he broke the bonds and bore the price of sin, defeated death, and created a way to life. By the gifts of his life, suffering, death, and resurrection, and the transformative grace of the Spirit, those who accept Christ and live in faith are reconciled to God—forgiven!— and saved from death.
I believe in the Church, the body of believers living in response to Christ under the Spirit's guidance. Its mission is proclaiming the Good News of Christ, worshipping, and living as citizens of God's Kingdom even as this world's kingdoms have not fallen entirely away. This includes love of neighbor by prayer and deed, seeking to understand and teach all God's revealed truth, and administering sacraments commanded by our Lord and carried on as mysteries and gifts of God’s presence. In Baptism we experience water as a visible sign of the Spirit’s cleansing claim on us. The Lord’s Supper nourishes us in body and spirit as we commune together with the living Christ while testifying to his sacrificial death.
I believe the Bible is a reliable witness to God's nature and relationship with humanity. Its testimony takes many forms: narrative, direct assertion, theological exposition, and articulation of art, worship, and struggle. Only by the guidance of the Holy Spirit can its truths be fully opened to us.
Even today, by that same Spirit, we can see glimmers of the Kingdom of God. I believe sin and death are defeated and passing away; a new heaven and earth, a resurrection of the dead, and a full restoration of rightness are to come, and in the end, Jesus will return to judge and rule the world forever.