In September of 2001 at the Leadership Training Institute held at the Desmond Inn, Albany, New York, Bishop George C. Walker appointed the Rev. Andrew D. Branch, Sr. to pastor of the Naomi Temple African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church. Rev. Branch was reappointed in June 2002 to serve as pastor for the 2002-2003 Conference Year and has been appointed every year since.
Rev. Andrew Branch has worked hard to lead the congregation in accomplishing the vision of previous pastors and members to construct a new edifice. It was discovered during the application process for the building permit that a certificate of occupancy was never obtained by the original owner of the church in 1935 and that there were building permits which were never closed by subsequent owners on work done in the parsonage in 1946 and the extension on the church now known as the anteroom in 1951. The Town of Hempstead informed the church that all of these had to be completed or closed out in order to obtain a parking variance for the new church.
To accomplish this, new stair rails were installed in the parsonage and around the exterior of the church. Wired smoke detectors were installed in the in the Church. A new roof was placed on the parsonage, some new carpeting was installed, and some rooms and hallways were painted by the pastor himself. A new closet was built in one of the rooms by the pastor with assistance from Bro. Billy Jones who was a local preacher at the church. The parking variance for the new church building was granted in March 2006.
In 2004, Rutland Road property was sold to enable the church to make a down payment towards a steel structure of the new edifice. All phases of our new church blueprints are now completed by the architect.
Other projects that have been completed during Rev. Branch’s tenure include the installation of a gravel parking lot; installation of new leaders and gutters around the church and parsonage; repainting of the church basement; installation of a new air conditioner in the rear of the church; and replacement of the ceilings in the anteroom and over the pulpit. New padded red side chairs were purchased for the pulpit. The upstairs bathroom of the parsonage was completely gutted and renovated in 2005. Rev. and Mrs. Branch also purchased 20 new rectangular tables for the church fellowship hall. The roof of the existing sanctuary was replaced in 2011. New carpet was installed in the sanctuary and the Pastor’s office in 2012.
Administratively, Rev. Branch has introduced the compilation and binding of Quarterly Conference reports. A new computer and printer were purchased. Coupled with a new copier machine that has been completely paid for, much of the printing at Naomi Temple has returned to being done in-house. During the 2006-2007 Conference Year, Rev. Branch instituted First Fridays which continues to thrive.
In 2009, the Bible Study format was changed to a series format. Since its inception, attendance at Bible Study has doubled. In 2010, the Christian Education Department created a Children’s Bible Study for children ages 3-9 to coincide with Bible Study to give parents the opportunity to attend undistracted while their children get their own lesson which often coincides with the adult lesson.
The Naomi Temple Summer Enrichment Program continues to thrive and provides young people in Roosevelt and surrounding communities with an opportunity to attend summer day camp. Some of the camp participants have become camp counselors after they aged out of the camp. The Home Missions Soup Kitchen serves lunch weekly on Saturdays and Naomi Temple Community Food Pantry provides bagged food on Saturdays and when emergencies arise.
Naomi Temple is in the final stages of preparing to construct its new edifice. The building plans have been approved, the contractor has been selected. It is now working on securing the financing to begin the project that has been the desire of the pastors and members of the congregation over the course of the past 50 years.