Saturday, October 24, 2009

In Memorium - Pastor Fritz Stegemann

At 4:00am EST Pastor Fritz Stegemann who founded the Open Door Chapel in Virginia Beach, VA. passed away.

I won't try to make this an obituary and chances are pretty good that this is one of the first widespread public notices to go out, so I am not going to state any facts etc.

I've known Pastor Fritz for years. My Dad had taken me to a couple of his services in "The Barn" way back in the early 70's. It was a new church and the services were held in a barn. Honestly I don't recall him but I do know during one of his services he said to hug the person next to you and there just happened to be a girl next to me that kind of freaked me out as a kid!

I'm not sure when Pastor Fritz gave this new church the name 'Open Door Chapel', he was a former Navy Chief and thought chapel sounded more inviting and what could sound more inviting than 'Open Door Chapel'!

In the early 80's I had attended a few of his services at the Open Door Chapels present location, an old theater (Princess Theater) in Virginia Beach. The services were often standing room only.

In the late 90's when I was dating my then girlfriend we would attend the 'Open Door', the standing room services were no more but there was a god bunch of regulars.

Pastor Fritz married my wife and I in his office in 1998.

Not sure when Pastor Fritz retired because of health reasons but something just happened to the 'Open Door" after that and the congregation just kind of dwindled after that.

I will always remember his Easter Sonrise services at the ocean front in Virginia Beach. Even for locals who don't attend church going to the sun rise service was a tradition.

Pastor Fritz taught me quite a bit, he was a Godly man to look up to. I'm free to say I didn't always agree with what he said or how he did things, I'm sure he wouldn't mind me saying that.

Thanks Fritz for all that you've done, I know God has a special place for you in His kingdom.


Anonymous said...

My husband, son, and I used to attend Open Door. We were members there for nearly 10 years. I was choir director for a while and my husband was on many committees. Our son attended the Open Door Academy and I taught there for a little while.

We had our ups and downs with Frits. We dearly loved him!! And we have missed he and Fran since we moved away a few years after Fritz retired.

Thanks for your remembrances.

Teri Duncan

Anonymous said...

I will miss Pastor Fritz. Above all else, I remember that he loved people. He would call out their names from the pulpit in the middle of services, just to say "Hi" and welcome.

He wasn't your traditional pastor. He was different. In a good way. I believe that difference was the fact that he truly loved people. It wasn't an act. It was a genuine love for all people. Especially, for the down and out.

I will miss you Pastor Fritz. I look forward to seeing you one day in the not-too-distant future. Enjoy your new body and perfect hearing.

A life that was impacted by God's love expressed through you,

Gary Lee Millner

Unknown said...

I believe "Fritz" as he was often 'just
called', because he was not only
a man with a powerful pastoral
heart but also a wonderful friend,
did unique work that is still a blessing here on the
planet as well as in Heaven. It's
almost as if I can hear Fritz and
Wanda( a very dedicated down syndrome church member who passed
away in the 90'S) throwing a party!
Everyone who knows Fritz will understand this reflection.


Anonymous said...

Pastor Fritz gave every watch he ever had away and would then go buy another one from my husband. Our family attended Open Door Chapel for many years and my husband and I were one of the first djs on the radio. The love he gave our family and the influence he had has left a permanent mark. We love you Pastor Fritz. THe Varelas

Joyce said...

Pastor Fritz Stegamann & his Loving wife (Fran) we love them both dearly. Pastor Fritz loved us the moment we walked into the front door at Open Door Chapel. Always, always gave everything eternal & outwardly to all people no matter who they were.
We prayed and longed for a child and because of laying on hands from Pastor and many times in prayer he prayed with us to concieve our "Miracle Baby, Nicko". He was there to share our joy & dedication of our child. He was there to baptize my husband and myself together as he wept in joy & love for us.
I never have ever known a pastor to show God's love the way Pastor Fritz loved people no matter who they are or where they are from. He was truly a man of God to serve his Saviour with all he had to give. We will miss this giant of a loving, compasionete, giving & loyal man of God. Ours prayers are with Fran and her adoring family. As the ship sails towards they lighthouse, Pastor Fritz and met the light of the world now after his long journey. With Deep sympathy & love we will miss you Pastor Fritz. Joyce Gibson