Graeme Bradford

Photo courtesy of Faye Bradford.

Bradford, Graeme Samuel (1940–2016)

By Milton Hook

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Milton Hook, Ed.D. (Andrews University, Berrien Springs, Michigan, the United States). Hook retired in 1997 as a minister in the Greater Sydney Conference, Australia. An Australian by birth Hook has served the Church as a teacher at the elementary, academy and college levels, a missionary in Papua New Guinea, and as a local church pastor. In retirement he is a conjoint senior lecturer at Avondale College of Higher Education. He has authored Flames Over Battle Creek, Avondale: Experiment on the Dora, Desmond Ford: Reformist Theologian, Gospel Revivalist, the Seventh-day Adventist Heritage Series, and many magazine articles. He is married to Noeleen and has two sons and three grandchildren.

Graeme Bradford was an Australian evangelist who conducted evangelistic series throughout the South Pacific Division and taught practical theology at Avondale University College for two extended periods.

Graeme Samuel Bradford was born in Melbourne, VIC, on Saturday, July 20, 1940.1 His father, Arthur, was an ex-gunner from World War I who was seriously wounded on two occasions.2 He loved to read books to his children and instilled in them a keen desire to learn. Both parents were members of the Salvation Army. Graeme was raised in the suburb of Footscray, where he attended the Hyde Street State Elementary School and was a trombonist in their brass band. His academy years were spent at Footscray Technical School, where he started playing Australian rules football and later became captain of the school alumni team. He was also a keen swimmer and tennis player.3

Billy Graham’s 1959 crusade in Melbourne was a watershed in Graeme’s life; he made his decision to become a Christian and began to think of training for the Baptist ministry. His sister and brother-in-law, Nancy and Edward Yates, of Ballarat, were Seventh-day Adventists, and Graeme thought he may show them their errors, but instead he was persuaded to accept their faith. It meant he had to resign from his Sabbath work as a bank clerk and also abandon his football club.4 He was baptized in Ballarat in August 1959 and spent the remainder of the year doing obligatory military training.5

Training for a New Career

Having decided on a Christian path, Graeme attended the Australasian Missionary College (AMC) in 1960 to do preliminary studies for graduate work. He remained under conviction that he should train for the ministry, so in 1961 he began a BA degree in theology. He completed the course in 1964 and was chosen as chaplain of his graduation class.6 During the summer vacation prior to his graduation, on January 27, 1963, he married Carolyn Faye Davey in Prospect, suburban Adelaide.7 They had met at AMC.

Productive Service

Graeme served as a ministerial intern in the Greater Sydney Conference (GSC) at Blacktown and Manly churches during 1965 and 1966. He continued with GSC until the end of 1968, caring for Warrimoo and Katoomba churches in the Blue Mountains.8 At Warrimoo he conducted his first solo crusade, baptizing twenty converts.9

In 1969 Graeme began a six-year term in South New Zealand, engaging in local evangelism with a number of churches, including Nelson, Blenheim, and Dunedin, and three in Christchurch.10 He was ordained on January 3, 1970, at Christchurch.11 Later he accepted an appointment to teach in the Bible Department at Fulton College, Fiji, during 1975 and 1976. He returned to Australia in 1977 to begin as an evangelist in the Trans-Tasman Union Conference, concentrating in the Queensland Conference churches of Cairns, Mossman, and Mackay. Similar assignments were fulfilled with the Trans-Australian Union Conference, 1980 through 1985, specifically in Canberra and Adelaide.12

A return to Graeme’s Alma Mater, Avondale College (formerly AMC), was made for the years 1986 through 1989 when he lectured in the Theology Department. He was specially involved in training the young ministerial candidates in practical workshops linked to traditional evangelistic programs. In 1990 he returned to field evangelism, first using Wahroonga headquarters church as his base and then, as Trans-Tasman Union Conference Ministerial Association secretary, he conducted a number of evangelistic series throughout the 1990s. He resumed lecturing at Avondale College in 2001.13 Once again he specialized in training field evangelists.14 Graeme retired from active service at the close of 2005.15 However, his passion for evangelism motivated him to conduct training programs in the discipline, on one occasion returning to Christchurch to instruct students from all quarters of the South Pacific Division.16

Postgraduate Academic Work

Graeme’s enthusiasm for evangelism was matched by an earnest twofold pursuit to demythologize Ellen G. White and reinterpret the Apocalypse.

The initial exposition of his interest in Ellen White studies appeared in his 1994 thesis submitted to Andrews University for his MA in theology, a paper titled “In the Shadow of Ellen White: Fundamentalist and Evangelical Seventh-day Adventists in Conflict.”17 Out of this work developed a manuscript eventually published as More Than a Prophet. Its publication was delayed for several years because of its controversial nature.18 Graeme turned to repackaging the thrust of the manuscript. He simplified it and cast the content in a dialogue style, publishing it in two booklets titled Prophets Are Human (2004) and People Are Human (2006). Once again, there was a reaction. However, Samuele Bacchiocchi was so pleased with the original form that he published it unabridged in 2006.19

Having often presented messages from the Apocalypse in his evangelistic series, Graeme was attracted to the fresh approach that Jon Paulien introduced in his university classes. In order to cast Paulien’s teaching into a form with an evangelistic tone, the two men united in a media presentation titled Revelation Hope, which has proved to be popular with many viewers.20 It was launched in 2008.21

Graeme earned a Doctor of Ministry degree in December 1998 from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, a division of Trinity International University in Deerfield, Illinois. Furthermore, he carried the title of Honorary Senior Research Fellow at Avondale College during his retirement.22

In his final years Graeme began preparing a Doctor of Philosophy dissertation under the supervision of Avondale College lecturers. Its development reached the final proposal stage under the title "The Reception of Christian Prophets and Their Prophecies: A Fresh Study of New Testament Principles and Their Applications in Seventh-day Adventism." The Ellen G. White Adventist Research Centre at Cooranbong, New South Wales, became the custodian of his research papers with the mutual understanding that researchers at a later date be permitted to build on the foundations of his academic work.23 Tragically, his life was cut short by an aggressive form of melanoma. For four years he struggled with deteriorating health, continuing to preach and study, but despite two surgeries, he died on May 8, 2016. He was buried in the Avondale Adventist Cemetery, leaving his wife, Faye, and children Linley and Lorin.24

Sources

Allen, C. G[raham]. “South New Zealand’s Camp Meeting.” Australasian Record and Advent World Survey, March 16, 1970.

Bradford, Arthur. 1916-1919. War Service Records. Personal collection of Faye Bradford.

Bradford, Graeme S. “In the Shadow of Ellen White: Fundamentalist and Evangelical Seventh-day Adventists in Conflict.” M.A. thesis, Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary, Andrews University, Avondale College campus, May 1994.

———. Jon Paulien and the Seventh-day Adventist Church. May 6, 2008. Copyright Agreement. Personal collection of Faye Bradford.

Campbell, Michael W. “More Than a Prophet, by Graeme Bradford.” Typepad, October 23, 2006. Accessed April 2, 2020. https://adventisthistorian.typepad.com/my_weblog/2006/10/more_than_a_pro.html.

Gillis, Craig. “SNZ Sees ‘First Fruits’ of Outreach.” Record, March 21, 2009.

“Graeme Bradford—More Than a Prophet.” Scribd., Inc., 2020. Accessed January 31, 2020. https://www.scribd.com/doc/4105532/Graeme-Bradford-More-Than-a-Prophet.

Graeme Bradford Work Service Records. South Pacific Division of the General Conference Archives. Folder: “Bradford, Graeme.” Document: “Graeme Bradford Work Service Records.”

Judd, C[laude] D. “Bradford-Davey.” Australasian Record and Advent World Survey, March 4, 1963.

Manners, Bruce. “TTUC Meetings Challenge Thinking.” Record, June 3, 1995.

Paulien, Jon, and Graeme Bradford. “Revelation’s Message for Us.” YouTube, August 24, 2015. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DPOzPBJ0bQk.

“Retirements.” Record, March 18, 2006.

Samuel Graeme Bradford. South Pacific Division of the General Conference Sustentation Department, Wahroonga, NSW. Denominational Service Details. Folder: “Samuel Graeme Bradford.” Document: “Samuel Graeme Bradford Denominational Service Details.”

Satchell, Graham, ed. Jac’ 64. Sydney, NSW: RM Printing Pty. Ltd., [1964].

Stacey, Brenton. “Evangelist’s Last Call: Remembering the Legacy of Dr. Graeme Bradford.” Spectrum, May 9, 2016.

Wegener, Scott. “Avondale’s Theology Students Evangelise.” Record, January 29, 2005.

Notes

  1. Samuel Graeme Bradford, South Pacific Division of the General Conference Sustentation Department, Wahroonga, NSW, Denominational Service Details (Folder: “Samuel Graeme Bradford”; Document: “Samuel Graeme Bradford Denominational Service Details”).

  2. Arthur Bradford, 1916-1919, War Service Records no. 283, personal collection of Faye Bradford.

  3. Faye Bradford, interview by Milton Hook, Cooranbong, NSW, February 2, 2020.

  4. Ibid.

  5. Ibid.; Graeme Bradford Work Service Records, South Pacific Division of the General Conference Archives, Cooranbong, NSW (Folder: “Bradford, Graeme”; Document: “Graeme Bradford Work Service Records”).

  6. Graham Satchell, ed., Jac’ 64 (Sydney, NSW: RM Printing Pty. Ltd., [1964]), [80].

  7. C[laude] D. Judd, “Bradford-Davey,” Australasian Record and Advent World Survey, March 4, 1963, 14.

  8. Samuel Graeme Bradford (sic).

  9. Faye Bradford, interview by Milton Hook, Cooranbong, NSW, February 19, 2020.

  10. Ibid.

  11. C. G[raham] Allen, “South New Zealand’s Camp Meeting,” Australasian Record and Advent World Survey, March 16, 1970, 12.

  12. Samuel Graeme Bradford (sic).

  13. Ibid.

  14. E.g., Scott Wegener, “Avondale’s Theology Students Evangelise,” Record, January 29, 2005, 6.

  15. “Retirements,” Record, March 18, 2006, 13.

  16. Craig Gillis, “SNZ Sees ‘First Fruits’ of Outreach,” Record, March 21, 2009, 3.

  17. Graeme S. Bradford, “In the Shadow of Ellen White: Fundamentalist and Evangelical Seventh-day Adventists in Conflict” (M.A. thesis, Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary, Andrews University, Avondale College campus, May 1994), frontispiece.

  18. Michael W. Campbell, “More Than a Prophet, by Graeme Bradford,” Typepad, October 23, 2006, accessed April 2, 2020, https://adventisthistorian.typepad.com/my_weblog/2006/10/more_than_a_ pro.html.

  19. “Graeme Bradford—More Than a Prophet,” Scribd.Inc., 2020, accessed January 31, 2020, https://www.scribd.com/doc/4105532/Graeme-Bradford-More-Than-a-Prophet.

  20. Jon Paulien and Graeme Bradford, “Revelation’s Message for Us,” YouTube, August 24, 2015, accessed February 4, 2020, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DPOzPBJ0bQk.

  21. Graeme Bradford, Jon Paulien and the Seventh-day Adventist Church, May 6, 2008, copyright agreement, personal collection of Faye Bradford.

  22. Brenton Stacey, “Evangelist’s Last Call: Remembering the Legacy of Dr. Graeme Bradford,” Spectrum, May 9, 2016, accessed January 31, 2020, https://spectrummagazine.org/article/2016/05/09/evangelist%25E2%2580%2599s-last-call-remembering-legacy-dr-graeme-bradford

  23. Note: The proposal, the Memorandum of Understanding, and Bradford's research notes are found in the Ellen G. White Research Centre, Avondale University College, Cooranbong, New South Wales.

  24. Personal knowledge of the author from association with Graeme Bradford in his final years.

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Hook, Milton. "Bradford, Graeme Samuel (1940–2016)." Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. April 28, 2021. Accessed January 25, 2022. https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=4AIH.

Hook, Milton. "Bradford, Graeme Samuel (1940–2016)." Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. April 28, 2021. Date of access January 25, 2022, https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=4AIH.

Hook, Milton (2021, April 28). Bradford, Graeme Samuel (1940–2016). Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. Retrieved January 25, 2022, https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=4AIH.