Rev. Robert E. Ernst, an Ohio native, was born in Madison in 1919. He began his ministerial career in 1941 as an American Sunday School Union missionary based in Chillicothe and serving six counties. He met Mrs. Ernst while both were attending the Practical Bible Training School (presently Davis College) in Johnson City, New York. After graduation, they married in 1942 and commenced their lifetime of service by continuing the missionary work in Chillicothe until 1945.
Returning to New York, Rev. Ernst continued his education, earning his Bachelor of Arts in 1948 from Houghton College, his Bachelor of Divinity from Northern Baptist Theological Seminary in 1958 and, in 1973, his Master of Divinity from the same institution. In 1981, Florida Bible College awarded him an Honorary Doctor of Divinity.

After serving as pastor of two churches in New York from 1945 through 1952, Rev. & Mrs. Ernst returned to Ohio in 1953 to the First Baptist Church in Kingsville. They moved to the First Baptist Church of Zanesville in 1963, remaining there for twelve years. After serving at the Union Baptist Church in Troy for ten years, they retired from full-time pastoral work in 1984 and moved to Westerville.

Less than five months after retiring, they were persuaded to accept an interim ministry position at the First Baptist Church in Grove City. Although they did not realize it at the time, this became a second career. Through 2001, they served in ten different churches for periods ranging from three to seventeen months. Their interim ministry actually returned them to the First Baptist churches in both Kingsville and Zanesville where they renewed many friendships. They also returned by request to the First Baptist Church in Fredericktown for interim ministry on three separate occasions.

Rev. Ernst was very active at all levels of the Ohio Baptist Convention. He held numerous management positions at the state level including Trustee and Executive Committee member. Other positions held ranged from Chairman of the Department of Ministry, and President of the Minister’s Council, to President of the Ministers Credit Union and board member of the Christian Board of Higher Education.

Rev. Ernst was involved in activities with the Boy Scouts of America for three decades and is himself an Eagle Scout with three Palms. During this time, he served as Chaplain and Counselor at two national Jamborees. Other areas of community service include Director of the Erie Bible Club summer camps for approximately ten years, Chaplain of the Ohio Defense Corps in Ashtabula for several years and participation in public education and local hospitals as a PTA board member and Chaplain, respectively.

Rev. & Mrs. Ernst traveled on missionary work tours to Haiti, Puerto Rico and Alaska, and have toured Egypt and the Holy Land. They have four children, eight grandchildren and eleven great-grandchildren.