RUDOLPH – Rudolph Christian Church may be 100 years old, but the youthful heart of its pastor and members
is seen in their genuine desire to meet the needs of people in the local community and surrounding area.

Leading the growing congregation is Pastor Ernest "Ernie" Unholz and his family; wife, Jerrie,
a retired licensed social worker, and their daughter, Michelle, 38, who has Downs Syndrome.
Though Unholz began serving the congregation as an interim pastor in July, 2007, while working full-time
for Lucas County Job and Family Services, his position at the church has now become exclusive. His job
in Lucas County was abolished in 2008, freeing him to serve the congregation as its permanent pastor.

Unholz is a 1989 graduate of Southern Baptist Seminary in Louisville, Ky., where he earned a master’s of
divinity degree in pastoral care and counseling.
"Upon our return to Ohio we found ourselves serving churches part-time," he said. In the past
15 years he has served five Wood County churches, Agape Congregational, First Christian, First Baptist
Church of Perrysburg, Northside Baptist and Rudolph Christian.
"The five churches I served part-time were able to stabilize during the time of my preaching till
they … called a pastor full-time," he said.
Following the end of his secular job, "Rudolph Christian Church and I began to prayerfully consider
the possibility God might be calling me to full-time pastorate along with my wife and daughter. …
Until we confirm God has called us, we don’t consider it a genuine calling."
Unholz explained the couple consider their 27-year marriage a Christian covenant partnership. "When
I believe God has confirmed a calling on my life, we pray about it and await confirmation before we
proceed." He added, "We consider this a calling for our family. We think it’s biblical."

"Any time a pastor (is called), I think the wives have to be involved. We kind of pick up the
slack," observed Jerrie Unholz. "Spouses of clergy and doctors have to be ready to step up
when there’s a need."
They are pleased with the continued growth of the congregation. Sunday attendance has increased through
the summer, estimated now at 80 to 90, and they are looking at possibly 100 to 125 in fall.
"When people sense the presence of God, they come back," stated Unholz. "I think it takes
more than a preacher. It takes more than a good worship format. It truly takes the Living God to draw
people to him."
This summer the members expressed their desire to meet the needs of local residents by growing a huge
community garden. It offered about a dozen vegetables which residents could pick for free to take home
and enjoy.
"This church came up with the idea. I thought it was the craziest idea I ever heard," admitted
Unholz. "And I couldn’t have been more wrong." He noted the garden "has been the single
most important outreach for me to meet people. We just go out to the garden and meet moms, dads,
children, singles, marrieds."
Another area of outreach was the church’s summer Vacation Bible School which drew 88 children. "This
is a dramatic increase over the previous year," he said. "I attribute it to the movement of
God himself."
The couple facilitates two free identical support groups using the book, "Making Peace With Your
Past," which allows attendees to work through childhood hurts to lead more whole lives as adults.
People outside the church are welcome to attend.
Their Sunday School classes are offered in four to six week units; from "Experiencing God" for
teens, to "Fireproof Your Marriage" for couples, to an "Andy Griffith/Mayberry"
group which discusses Christian values as related to the beloved TV show from decades ago, which is
popular with seniors.
Other special events and monthly ministries are found on the church’s Web site,
Jerrie Unholz, who also is known in the community as "Sparkles the Clown," is especially
excited about a new women’s book club which will meet at Panera to discuss Philip Keller’s classic,
"A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23."
Her Web site,, has a link to another ministry the couple offer, "Missing My
Friend," which provides grief counseling to persons who have lost a beloved pet.
Unholz will soon be ordained in the Disciples of Christ denomination, of which Rudolph Christian Church
is a member.