While being trained for the ministry at Salisbury/Wells Theological College, 1972–1977, he pledged himself to work for gay emancipation. He died from a motorcycle accident in Februry 1977, aged 25. At the time of his death he was a curate in the Diocese of St Albans.
In his memory, the Gay Christian Movement founded a series of annual lectures under the title "The Michael Harding Memorial Address". The lectures have been presented by, among others, Rowan Williams, subsequently Archbishop of Canterbury.
Presenters of the The Michael Harding Memorial Address
- Number 1 (1978): Kennedy Thom "Liberation through love : the freedom achieved through acceptance of oneself, through solidarity with fellow human beings and through the union with God realised in prayer"
- Number 2 (1979): Harry Williams "The Gay Christian Movement and the education of public opinion"
- Number 3 (1980): Jack R Burton "Our common humanity : the need for tenderness and realism in discussing sexuality"
- Number 4 (1982): Lionel Blue "Godly and Gay"
- Number 5 (1982): John Boswell "Rediscovering Gay History : Archetypes of Gay Love in Christian History"
- Number 7 (1984): Jim Cotter "The Other Country - Spies of God, Friends of God"
- Number 10 (1989): Rowan Williams "The Body's Grace"