A Seventh-day Adventist minister and academic in Australia who actively promoted public evangelism and the teachings of Adventist Church cofounder Ellen White has died after a four-year fight with melanoma, or skin cancer.
Graeme Bradford died on May 8 at the age of 75.
Bradford was the “quintessential public evangelist,” said Steven Thompson, former dean of the theology department at the Adventist Church-owned Avondale College of Higher Education, where Bradford taught from 1986 to 1989 and then again from 2001 to 2005.
“He spoke in an engaging way,” Thompson said. “He encouraged his students to become evangelists, and he had high regard for the ministry of Ellen White.”
Bradford, born July 20, 1940, grew up in the Melbourne suburb of Footscray. His mother wanted him to take up a trade, but Bradford began working in a bank.
Then U.S. evangelist Billy Graham came to town, and the newly converted Bradford wound up at Australasian Missionary College (now the Avondale College of Higher Education), graduating in 1964.
Bradford served as a pastor in Sydney and New Zealand before being appointed as head of the Bible department at the church’s Fulton College in Fiji. He then worked as a pastor and evangelist in various parts of Australia. Between his two stints at Avondale, he served for 10 years as Ministerial Association secretary for the church’s then-Trans-Tasman Union Conference.
Bradford’s research for his Doctor of Philosophy, which he began in 2014, examined the prophetic ministry of Ellen White in light of the New Testament gift of prophecy. He also wrote the books Prophets Are Human and the sequel, People Are Human, to revive interest in and a regard for White’s ministry.
“It was a constant theme of his ministry, and he wasn’t afraid to challenge those who didn’t promote Ellen White’s ministry in a contemporary way,” Thompson said.
As for Bradford himself? Thompson remembers him as having an “openness to people and a good sense of humor” and as being “gregarious and outgoing.”
“We’ll miss him,” he said.
Bradford’s son, Lorin Bradford, remembered his father’s love for sports and preaching.
“He spent hours playing backyard cricket and tennis with his grandchildren,” he said.
Bradford, who read several books a week, kept his sermons fresh and often accepted invitations to share Scripture with even the smallest churches, Lorin Bradford said.
Education and the ability to be true to himself were valued, too. “Dad spoke up, he had an opinion,” his son said. “He didn’t let others dictate how he should think.”
Bradford earned a bachelor’s degree in theology from Pacific Union College in the U.S. state of California, a master’s in religion from Andrews University in Michigan, and a Doctor of Ministry from Trinity International Divinity School in Illinois. He carried the title of Honorary Senior Research Fellow at Avondale at his death.
A memorial service was held at the Avondale College Seventh-day Adventist Church on Sunday, May 15.
Bradford is survived by his wife, Faye; daughter, Linley Bagnall; son, Lorin; and grandchildren William, Amity, James, and Layne.
One of Bradford’s passions was the biblical book of Revelation, and he wrote and presented the “Revelation Hope Series” with Jon Paulien, dean of the School of Religion at Loma Linda University in California. The series, prepared under the guidance of the church in the South Pacific Division’s Biblical Research Committee, features 12 and 24 seminars explaining the biblical book of Revelation. Bradford and Paulien produced a comprehensive package, including a DVD series, student booklets, and research guides.
“The more I studied it, the more I became convinced that it was never meant to frighten people. It was meant to encourage people,” Bradford said during an interview on “Record InFocus” television show in 2012. “And I think if the book is read as it was meant to be, it’s a book that gives hope, meaning and purpose.”
Graeme Bradford speaking about Revelation in a 2012 interview with “Record InFocus”. (Adventist Record)