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By Dave Boyce
Almanac Staff Writer
The rafters may ring again at Mt. Olive Apostolic Original Holy Church of God in Menlo Park's Belle Haven neighborhood, but not to the vocal Amens and enthusiastic clapping and singing associated with the weekly sermons of Elder Hattie L. Bostic, the church's founder (in 1963) and its only pastor.
Elder Bostic died Friday, Dec. 9, at the age of 76 at her home in Menlo Park, where she had lived for over 50 years, church member Laurita Wheeler told the Almanac.
A memorial and service is set to begin at 10 a.m. Friday, Dec. 23, at the Mt. Olive church at 605 Hamilton Ave. in Menlo Park. For more information, call the church at 853-0355.
The occasions of Elder Bostic's Sunday sermons were "very jubilant, very upbeat," Ms. Wheeler said. Elder Bostic's words reflected her intense study of the Bible, she added. "The sermons were never the same and were power-packed and dynamic."
Church membership is around 180, and includes residents of Fremont and Hayward as well as East Palo Alto and Redwood City, Ms. Wheeler said.
Elder Bostic headed a nationwide organization of 24 Apostolic Original Holy churches, traveled frequently for speaking engagements, and wrote 10 "study" books, in which she interpreted sections of the Bible, Ms. Wheeler said.
Taking over for Elder Bostic in Menlo Park will be the oldest of her five sons, Teman Bostic, also of Menlo Park and a bishop of the church, Ms. Wheeler said.
Asked if Elder Bostic had interests outside the church she founded, perhaps a hobby, Ms. Wheeler warmly replied: "Her hobby was pretty much studying the word of God."
Elder Bostic was admitted to the San Mateo County Women's Hall of Fame in 1992.
Church members did manage to get her to Hawaii or a cruise about once a year "to get her away from the church," Ms. Wheeler said.
Founding the church
From her home in the Belle Haven neighborhood, Elder Bostic and several associates founded Mt. Olive in 1963 in her living room, according to church sources.
The church's first home was a storefront on Newbridge Avenue, but members later built a church on Hamilton Avenue in 1971 that, in 1992, was rebuilt as a larger church and community center.
Elder Bostic served as "cheerleader, chief fundraiser, contractor and bricklayer," according to an Almanac profile from 2006.
Matt Henry, former president of the Belle Haven Homeowners Association and a former Menlo Park planning commissioner, said in the profile that he "(could) not say too much about" Elder Bostic in praise of her work and presence in the community.
Life in Belle Haven and how to make it better was a passion for Ms. Bostic and Mt. Olive's membership of some 200 souls, the Almanac profile said. The church took on challenges common to low-income neighborhoods: lowering the crime rate, improving the schools, making housing more affordable, finding shelter for the homeless and helping those with substance abuse problems.
"She helps," Mr. Henry said at the time. "She always does."
Ms. Bostic, who grew up poor and sometimes homeless in Mobile, Alabama, knew of such community problems.
She was one of eight children in a broken home, and her mother was abused and sickly, the profile said. At age 9, Hattie went to work chopping wood in a wood yard to help support the family. "I'd go to school when I could, and chop wood when I could," she says in the profile. "I made $2 a week. At that time, $2 would almost buy groceries."
Elder Bostic is survived by sisters Ruthie Young and Oliestine Smith, both of Mobile, Alabama, and Patricia Lawson of San Jose; sons Teman, Charles and Michael Bostic of Menlo Park, and Tabbert and George Bostic of Hayward; and 14 grandchildren, friends of the family said.
Donations in Elder Bostic's name may be made to CPNDEC (Crime Prevention Narcotics & Drugs Education Center), 605 Hamilton Ave., Menlo Park, CA 94025.