Dean A. Stortz was promoted to glory suddenly on March 26, 2023 at the age of 79, but in a very real sense, Stortz’s home-going could not have been more appropriate, for he was stricken while on his way to a Sunday School class at Bethel Bible Fellowship Church in Emmaus, PA. So in a very real way, he went right from a church he loved into the presence of the Savior he loved even more.
One of Stortz’s four sons, Eric Stortz, appreciated the symmetry. Speaking at his father’s memorial service, his son said, “He grew up in these pews and he died going to church after serving the church and God’s kingdom for 40 years in ministry.”
Stortz’s life was directed toward gospel ministry at an early age. He received diplomas from Berean Bible Institute, Covenant College, and Alliance Theological Seminary prior to serving for three years—alongside his faithful wife Donna—as a missionary in Germany. He went to Germany not knowing how to speak German, but his commitment to prayer allowed him to minister faithfully among the German people. From there, the Stortzes returned home to the U.S., allowing Dean to begin his career calling as a pastor. Over the course of a long career that spanned three decades, he pastored churches in New Fairfield, CT and Toms River, NJ. At Toms River, Stortz planted The Church of the Cross and was its primary spiritual leader for more than two decades.
Stortz retired in concept but not in actuality. After officially retiring, he served as an interim pastor, chaplain, and elder for a number of BFC congregations. He also served on the Board of Directors at Fellowship Community in Whitehall, PA for 30 years.
A lifelong sports fan of Penn State athletics as well as Philadelphia’s pro sports teams—the Phillies, Flyers, Sixers, and Eagles, Stortz spent time as an athletics coach as well as a history teacher and as a banker prior to entering ministry. He was also a voracious reader with an extensive library
Among Stortz’s many church minstry opportunities, he served as an elder at Kutztown BFC for a decade. Kutztown elder Nick Timpe remembers, “After a career of tireless and self-sacrificing ministry, Dean and Donna were eager to pour themselves into the life, and be a vital part of the life, of our church. If there was an opportunity to serve, Dean was there.”
Stortz’s “life verse” was Psalm 27:4. It reads, “One thing I have asked of the LORD, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to inquire in His temple.”
In addition to his wife of 52 years, Donna, Stortz is survived by sons Stephen (wife Jenny), Andrew, and Eric (wife Lindsay), as well as eight grandchildren. He was preceded in death by a brother, Rodney, and a sister, Janice Morgan.
“The first characteristic that I think of when I think of Dad is that he was humble,” noted Stephen Stortz. “He walked in humility and he really lived out the spirit of the verse that says, ‘Consider each other better than yourself.’”
(Note: This remembrance originally appeared in the 2023 BFC Yearbook.)