On October 3, 2021, an eclectic combination of civic and Seventh-day Adventist leaders came both in-person and electronically to the Oakwood University Seventh-day Adventist Church to lay Elder Charles E. Bradford to rest. Elder Bradford was a beloved, long-time Seventh-day Adventist pastor and church administrator. He was 96 years old.
Huntsville mayor, Tommy Battle, was one of the first speakers to pay tribute to Elder Bradford. He was followed by Dr. Ted N.C. Wilson, the president of the General Conference. Some of the other leaders paying tribute to the first president of the North American Division – as well as the first African-American to hold that position include Dr. G.Alexander Bryant, president, North American Division; Dr. Ronald C. Smith, president, Southern Union Conference; Dr. Dave Weigley, president, Columbia Union Conference; presidents of the nine Regional Conferences and the executive director of the Office for Regional Conference Ministries.
Dr. Leslie N. Pollard, president of Oakwood University, paid tribute to Elder Bradford who served as a member of the Oakwood Board of Trustees. United States chaplain, Dr. Barry Black, also celebrated Elder Bradford’s legacy via video.
There were a number of musical selections during the service. Southeastern Conference pastor and Dream Academy co-founder, Elder Whitley Phipps, Elder Walter Arties and Shelton Kilby, the Oakwood University Aeolians, and Danita Jones were among those providing musical ministry to Elder Bradford’s family and those attending the service.
After the music, Dr. Carlton P. Byrd gave the eulogy. Currently the president of the Southwest Region Conference, Dr. Byrd served as Elder Bradford’s final pastor when he served as the senior pastor of the Oakwood University SDA Church.
Elder Bradford’s youngest son, Dwight, thanked those attending and gave his own tribute. After some remarks by various other family members, the service for one of this church’s greatest leaders came to an end; yet Elder Charles Bradford’s legacy lives on.