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.