Evangelist’s Last Call: Remembering the Legacy of Dr. Graeme Bradford

A Seventh-day Adventist minister and “reluctant” academic dubbed the “thinking evangelist” by his family died May 8 after a four-year fight with melanoma.

Dr. Graeme Bradford 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 American evangelist Billy Graham came to town and the newly converted Bradford would come to the then Australasian Missionary College, from which he graduated in 1964.

Calls to pastoral ministry in Sydney and in South New Zealand followed before Bradford became Head of the Bible Department at the church’s Fulton College in Fiji. That preceded more pastoral and evangelistic ministry in northern Australia, southern New South Wales and South Australia. Ten years as Ministerial Association Secretary for the church’s then Trans-Tasman Union Conference came between Bradford’s two tenures at Avondale College.

Bradford lectured at Avondale from 1986 to 1989 then again from 2001 to 2005. Dr. Steven Thompson, Dean of the then Faculty of Theology in 2003, remembers him as the “quintessential public evangelist.” “He spoke in an engaging way, he encouraged his students to become evangelists and he had high regard for the ministry of Ellen White.”

Bradford’s research for his Doctor of Philosophy, which he began in 2014, examined the prophetic ministry of the Seventh-day Adventist pioneer 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,” says Thompson, “and he wasn’t afraid to challenge those who didn’t promote Ellen White’s ministry in a contemporary way.”

As for Bradford himself? Thompson remembers him as having an “openness to people and a good sense of humour” and as being “gregarious and outgoing. We’ll miss him.”

No more so than his family. “Dad loved his sport, particularly tennis and Aussie Rules,” says son Lorin. “And he spent hours playing backyard cricket and tennis with his grandchildren.”

Games were usually “highly competitive.” His other passion: preaching. Bradford, who read several books a week, kept his sermons fresh and often accepted invitations to share Scripture with even the smallest churches. Education and the ability to be true to himself were valued, too. “Dad spoke up, he had an opinion,” says Lorin. “He didn’t let others dictate how he should think.”

Bradford earned a bachelor’s degree in theology from Pacific Union College, a master’s in religion from Andrews University and a Doctor of Ministry from Trinity International Divinity School. He carried the title of Honorary Senior Research Fellow at Avondale at his death.

Bradford also wrote and presented the Revelation Hope Series with Dr. Jon Paulien from the School of Religion at Loma Linda University. Prepared under the guidance of the church in the South Pacific’s Biblical Research Committee, the series features 12 or 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 [Revelation], the more I became convinced that it was never meant to frighten people, it was meant to encourage people,” said Bradford during an interview on Record InFocus 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.”

Bradford is survived by his wife, Faye, daughter Linley Bagnall, son Lorin and grandchildren William, Amity, James and Layne.

Graeme Bradford's Memorial Service will be held at the Avondale College Seventh-day Adventist Church, Sunday, May 15 at 2pm.

Brenton Stacey is Public Relations Officer for Avondale College of Higher Education.

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This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/7452

I’m certainly saddened to learn of Dr Bradford’s passing - I had not been aware he was battling cancer. The Bradfords became family friends when they moved to Fulton College, Fiji, in the 1970s, where my dad was also working at the time. Graeme continued to be a valued friend and mentor over many, many years since. He was an inspiration, and will be sadly missed. My condolences to the extended Bradford family.


It is a sad day. My sympathies go to Faye and her family.
Graeme and I sat in the same classes at Avondale College. I was called on to be class graduation president and he served as our class chaplain, 1964.
Part of his significant legacy will be his sane approach to the debate over Ellen White’s role in the church. He argued for a biblical foundation for her role rather than the saccharine expressions made by many SDA writers. This stance earned him a cool reception at White Estate headquarters. And one extremist in Australia purchased numerous copies of his book and built a bonfire with them. Reformers have had worse done to them!!
He was also passionate about modifications to the SDA interpretation of the Book of Revelation. It was, he stressed, a revelation about Jesus Christ. Graeme understood and lived and preached the gospel.


This is a sad day. I had the privilege of corresponding with Dr. Bradford by email a few years ago in my research and reading of his book, ‘More Than a Prophet’. This book opened my eyes (and got me in big arguments with both conservatives and former Adventists who wanted me to either accept EGW as fully prophetic and infallible or to reject her outright as a false prophet). Dr. Bradford fought against the ‘all or nothing’ approach to EGW and took massive amounts of criticism for it, and yet the church needed this book and the thoughts and ideas it contained more than anything. Thank you Dr. Bradford. You, like Samuele Bacchiocchi, tried hard to bring logic and reason to the issue of EGW but were persecuted for it. Rest in peace. Condolences to his family.


Only knew him through the videos he and Jon Paulien made on Revelation. He seemed like a very godly, Christ-like person. Prayers for family.

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I had heard for some months now that Dr. Bradford was ill, and had hoped this was either exaggerated or misreported in some way. I am very sorry to learn of his passing. May his family be comforted in this time of loss and mourning, is my prayer.

I would have been about 10 years old when he pastored my childhood church in Nelson NZ.

My recollections of him are all pleasant.


Graeme was Des’s student, and he and Faye have remained our friends all through the years. Wherever we were, Graeme sought us out on his travels. He visited us in Manchester and travelled Scotland and Ireland with Des. We saw him in a number of times in USA and even when we visited Puerto Rico one time, as well as back here in Australia. So we knew him very well. He often phoned and was as happy to talk to me as to Des. We will miss him greatly. Graeme was the epitome of a fine Christian gentlemen—courteous, friendly, humane, decent, full of faith, humorous, learned, engaged, hardworking and fair. Above all, he loved, preached and lived the gospel. Vale Graeme, soon we will see the King.


I will miss my friend Graeme. Since he came to Phoenix, AZ in May '07 to speak about the issues surrounding his book More Than a Prophet we have shared many things via email and Skype. He worked with me so he could make his and Jon Paulien’s 24 part DVD series available here in the States. His impact will live on. Blessings to his family during this time of sorrow. Graeme will be missed.

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Graeme Bradford left Avondale the year before I commenced Ministry. He and Faye were always friends of
Val and I. Our sympathies go to Faye and her family.
My memories were from a practical point of view. Graeme always supplied Ministers in the field with the latest trends, papers, information, relative to the real world, coming from the many scholars within and out of the Adventist Church, via the Division or Union.
He was a breath of fresh air, a thinker in his own right, and was passionate about the Message of Jesus.
Thankyou Graeme and Faye for an outstanding contribution to Christianity and Adventism.

Ken L Lawson


I suspect that his work in regards to EGW will now obtain more prominence in the years to come. Of what I have read of his, his approach to EGW is one of the only sane ways forward for a church which MUST soon re-evaluate its prophet if is to survive or be relevant. He has left the SDA Church a great gift, little do they realize it though.


God bless, Dr. Graeme Bradford

I watched a lot of Revelation: Hope series via the channel broadcast. I knew him as Graeme as Dr. Paulien would say, but I did not know Dr. Bradford personally.

Dr. Bradford was very positive as was the purpose of his series. I enjoyed the dynamics between Paulien and Bradford. Every Sabbath afternoon, I could count on Bradford’s endearing shrug whenever he playfully stumbled on another revelation to cheer me up with a week’s worth of discovery. I loved his vibrant curiosity and his old tales from back home. I know he is surely missed and may God bless him and his family.

I have extremely fond memories of a young Bradford family and of Pr Graeme Bradford at my church as a child. Pr. Bradford always presented a positive, humble and vibrant outlook and attitude, to God, church and spirituality. He definitely influenced me for the better in my relationship to God and I have strong memories of his passionate Evangelistic Campaign on the prophecies of Revelation especially, as I remember, in the area. I was surprised to get a hint of his passing recently, I don’t remember where from, which was confirmed when I checked online.
My condolences to all who were close to him, in particular his family.
His vibrancy and our memories of him, will stay with with us though he is sleeping, and I believe awaiting, our Lord’s return. .

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