Small church, big gift

Free Will Baptist Church consistently helps Compassionate Hands

Yukon Progress, Yukon Review, Free Will Baptist, Compassionate Hands
Leaders of the Yukon Free Will Baptist Church, 1575 W Vandament, present an annual donation to Yukon Compassionate Hands. From left, Care-A-Van driver Tom McCarley, Compassionate Hands director Joanne Riley, church board vice chairman Smokey Lombard, Senior Pastor Rick Duncan, Associate Pastor Bob Duncan, and church board chairman Warren Blackketter. (Photo by Conrad Dudderar)

By Conrad Dudderar
Senior Staff Writer

A small church has presented a big gift to Yukon’s helping ministry.
Yukon Free Will Baptist Church, 1575 W Vandament, annually contributes $3,000 to Compassionate Hands. These funds are included in the church’s annual budget, according to senior pastor Rick Duncan.

“Our church gives to education and to foreign missions, and we consider this part of our home mission giving,” Duncan said. “We also give to Manna Pantry, Mobile Meals and other local groups. We give $8,000 a year to home missions.”

Joining the senior pastor for the official presentation to Compassionate Hands were associate pastor Bob Duncan, church board chairman Warren Blackketter and vice chairman Smokey Lombard.

Yukon Free Will Baptist Church has been on W. Vandament since 1969. About 60 to 70 church members attend the traditional Sunday morning worship service.

The senior pastor and his father Bob take turns preaching on Sundays. Bob Duncan is 94 years young and has been preaching 71 years; Rick Duncan has preached since age 7.
Compassionate Hands’ director Joanne Riley thanked Yukon Free Will Baptist Church leaders for their substantial donation.

“Like other churches who give to us, Yukon Free Will Baptist has a lot of people off the interstate who come to their church for help,” Riley said. “Giving to Compassionate Hands is a way for us to ‘vet’ people who come in and find out why they need help. We also keep a database of who gets help and how often they get it.

“This is the best use of our donated dollars.”

A ministry of the Yukon Ministerial Alliance, Compassionate Hands was established in 1994 to serve as a central “clearinghouse” for local churches who were frequently approached to help people in need.

“We are in our 25th year serving Yukon,” Riley said.

Compassionate Hands serves people in temporary crisis by addressing immediate needs, fostering hope and guiding them toward self-sufficiency.

Compassionate Hands provides emergency housing, medicine and utility assistance to Yukon residents and operates an accessible van for those needing transportation to medical appointments.


Pastor Duncan knows his church’s generous gift will go to good use because the funds directly support people who qualify for emergency help.

Before Compassionate Hands, people claiming they were in crisis would go from church to church collecting donations.

“We had a lot of people go through,” pastor Duncan said. “Used to, if I gave them something, I could call three or four churches and they’d ‘hit’ them all. We’d just help ‘retire’ them for a week or two.”

The Yukon Free Will Baptist Church board wanted to find a way to ensure their support was going to people who really need a hand up – not a hand out.

“Smokey (Lombard) told us about Compassionate Hands, so we checked into that,” pastor Duncan said. “We decided it would better for us to get involved with someone that actually sits (the recipients) down; gets their name, driver’s license, Social Security number, and finds out if they really have a need or if they’re just trying to ‘live’ off everybody.

“We just had to have an answer that made sense.”

Church leaders plan to continue supporting Compassionate Hands, perhaps even increasing the annual contribution.

The Yukon Free Will Baptist Church offers traditional church hymnal and Christian fellowship. Sunday School is 9 a.m. with the worship service at 10 a.m. Wednesday Bible study is at 7 p.m.

While acknowledging that some people take advantage of others’ generosity, Compassionate Hands’ director emphasized there are people “with very legitimate needs”.

“That’s who we try to serve, especially families and the homeless,” Riley said. “There is a homeless element here, and it’s becoming more of a need in Yukon.”

Churches, individuals and civic groups interested in supporting Yukon’s Compassionate Hands with an annual gift for its 25th anniversary year should call 354-9591 or visit