John Bradshaw, Sr., Elder


SCRIPTURE: Matthew 20:26-27: “But it shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister; And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant:


HIS BACKGROUND: John was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on July 15, 1946 to Barbara Maxine Chew in the East Liberty area. Shortly thereafter, Barbara and her first-born son would move to Tacoma, where her family lived. Barbara married, Hugo Bradshaw, and the couple had six more children – Marvél, Mark, Dorian, Leatha, Deana and Debra.

The Bradshaw’s moved to San Francisco in 1953. While living in “The City,” John became a huge 49ers and Giants fan. He attended Niners games at Kezar Stadium and Giants games at Seals Stadium.

In 1959, the family moved across the Bay Bridge to Berkeley. During his senior year at Berkeley High School, his family moved again, this time to West Oakland. Still, he finished out high school at Berkeley, graduating in 1964.

John did some schooling at Merritt College before getting a job at the U.S. Department of Agriculture in Albany. In 1968, three months after getting married, he took a job at the United States Postal Service because of the more lucrative pay. John went postal for 39 years and 11 months before retiring in October of 2007.
HIS FAMILY: In 1964, John’s sister Marvel brought two friends over to the house. One of them was hook-up for John. Her name was Carmen Carey.

John and Carmen started dating officially in the summer of 1965.

“He was cooooool,” Carmen said with a laugh. “The way he walked, the way he carried himself. He wasn’t a pimp or anything like that. But he was cool.”

The two were married on July 27, 1968. Their first child, Sharon, was born two years later, followed by John Jr. in 1974 and Karen in 1975.

In 1986, their family grew. John and Carmen took in their nephew, Nicholas Thompson, and twin nieces Danielle and Marvél Thompson. In December of 1987, they took in their infant niece, Rochelle Thompson, adopting her as their fourth child.

HIS CONVERSION: As part of a work training program, John was a dean’s assistant at Willard Junior High in the fall of 1965. He used to play around with children on the basketball court. One of the kids, Alford Dean Williams, was so enamored with John’s jump shot that he invited John to play for his church’s basketball team. So John tried out and made the squad for the South Berkeley Church of Christ. The coach, Jimmy Lymon, had one rule: players must attend church at least twice.

John, who had experienced religion a bit as a youth, was immediately attracted to the worship style at South Berkeley. He started asking questions, then studying the Bible. By April of 1966, he was baptized.

“I remember the first time I prayed,” John recalled. “I was like a month old (in Christ) and they asked me to do the closing prayer. You know how you forget what you want to say? Well, I got stuck on what I was going to say next. I don’t know for how long, but I hesitated. Brother E.A. English said “Amen” and everybody got up and left. I never finished the prayer. I didn’t even put it in Jesus’ name. I’ll never forget that.”


HIS WALK: During his 45-plus years as a member of the body of Christ, John has been a tireless servant. He has been a Bible teacher, a youth counselor, the education director, a song leader and an assistant minister. He has designed the bulletin, visited countless sick-and-shut-in, helped numerous people understand and obey the gospel, even served as janitor.  John was one of the original directors of the California State Youth Conference. He serves as an elder, and oversees the Youth Ministry and is responsible for the financial obligations of the church.  


SOMETHING YOU MAY NOT KNOW ABOUT JOHN: “I have a temper. Very people think I have a temper. They think that I’m a low-key, mild-mannered type of guy. I can get upset. Not too many people know that.”