Sweet Haven Church
Sweet Haven Church began in 1981 as a house church in the Beverly Hills community of Rockingham where a small group of 19 folks met with their founding pastor, the Rev. Bruce Goodwin, for the first service. Soon the house church moved and began meeting in a vacant house in downtown Rockingham on Everette and Lawerence streets, near the current location of Rockingham First Baptist. The founding Executive Board of Directors were Ronald and Dawn Patterson; Sam, Dianne and Margaret Jarrell; and Lloyd and Irene Heaton. They led the church to incorporation and official recognition by the state as nondenominational Sweet Haven Church on September 26, 1983. Also in 1983 the church purchased land on Midway Road and held groundbreaking and began construction there on November 19, 1983 -by the members themselves and friends- of their first sanctuary. On June 13, 1984, the members held their first service there in an incomplete building, sitting on 2x6 boards supported by cinderblocks for pews. There were 42 people present. In 1986, Bruce Goodwin left the pastorate and the Rev. Claude Bean Jr. became the pastor, leading the church to change its name to Sweet Haven Free Will Baptist Church.
In 1993, Claude Bean Jr. left and the Rev. Jim Bowers served as interim pastor for six months while members sought out a new pastor. Toby King Sr. recalls the board had several experienced candidates under consideration when they interviewed a young pastor with no experience as a pastor and no seminary education, Mitchell Roller, an East Rockingham native who had just begun preaching. "Something just welled up within me and told me that this was the man we had been waiting for since the church was founded", Toby King, Sr. recalls of that day. The board hired Mitchell Roller and he preached his first sermon as full-time pastor on the first Sunday in December 1993 with only 19 members present. In 1996 the church returned to its original name as an independent non-denominational church. About 350 members and associates currently attend Sweet Haven Church as steady growth continues.
Address: Sweet Haven Church 424 Midway Road Rockingham, NC 28379