News Articles

Army officer selected to lead IMB global information systems

MOBILE, Ala. (BP)–A career U.S. Army officer with an
extensive background in computer and software management has
been selected as the International Mission Board’s new vice
president for global information systems.
The election of Lt. Col. Franklin J. “Jerry” Burkett
during the board’s Jan. 19-21 meeting in Mobile, Ala.,
represents a practical expression of a comprehensive “Vision
2001″ overseas missions strategy statement presented to
trustees by Avery Willis, the IMB’s senior vice president
for overseas operations.
The “Vision 2001” statement calls for the board “to be
first-century Christians using the tools of the 21st century
to communicate to all peoples to help them understand the
gospel and have a chance to respond to it.” The statement
envisions a “God-centered missionary force … driven by the
lostness of people without Christ … that does whatever it
takes to reach all peoples … and facilitate church
planting movements” among them.
“Vision 2001” also calls for intensified prayer efforts
and tripling the numbers of short-term volunteers and
long-term missionaries on the field.
“Many good things are done in the name of missions,”
Willis told trustees. “But the ultimate goal is to start
church planting movements among all peoples of the world
that will sweep millions into the kingdom.”
An essential part of accomplishing such a vision is
creating a global communications network that allows
missionaries and their supporters to effectively
communicate, said Don Kammerdiener, the board’s executive
vice president.
Elevating the position of director of the board’s
computer system to a vice presidential level — and hiring
someone with Burkett’s credentials — indicates the
importance the IMB is placing on technology and
communications in its global strategy, he said.
“With explosive advancements in technology and
communications, it is imperative that we utilize these tools
and resources in our Great Commission task of evangelizing a
lost world,” said IMB President Jerry Rankin. “As we
approach the 21st century, it is a major step forward to
move our home office management information department to an
office of global information systems.”
The new office will link the board’s Richmond
administrative offices with regional offices and
missionaries around the world.
Burkett, 45, currently serves as a director on the
executive management staff of the U.S. Army’s Software
Development Center at Fort Lee, Va. In that capacity, he
directs 120 military and civilian employees and manages a
budget of more than $60 million.
In his previous assignment with the Army at NATO
offices in the Netherlands, Burkett designed computer
networks and procured hardware and software for the NATO
management information system.
Burkett will retire from the Army to accept the IMB

“Few developments have impressed me of God’s hand being
upon the IMB as much as Jerry Burkett’s availability and
selection as vice president,” Rankin said. “He has managed
system development efforts for the largest software
development program in the U.S. Army, helped establish and
improve the information system network for NATO and received
the most advanced training in software and automation
support available. He is uniquely qualified to serve the
needs of the International Mission Board.”
A graduate of the University of California at Riverside
and the University of Central Texas in Killeen, Burkett is a
member of Colonial Heights Baptist Church near Richmond,
where he is an active deacon and teaches Sunday school for
the college and career-age group.
During the three-day meeting, trustees also heard a
report from Bill Cashion, the agency’s human needs
consultant, on the delivery of 70,000 children’s coats,
along with medicine and food, to North Korea. Cashion shared
an eyewitness account of the coat delivery and described
three new relief projects North Korean officials have asked
Southern Baptists to undertake: a large food shipment this
spring, a friendship basketball tour and another shipment of
children’s coats next winter.
Trustees also adopted a resolution of affirmation for
the Fellowship of Baptist World Ministries, an association
of Baptist evangelistic and ministry organizations
cooperating with the IMB in strategic projects overseas.
Rankin praised the group for its integrity, financial
accountability and commitment “to time-honored missiological
In a Tuesday evening service at Cottage Hill Baptist
Church in Mobile, trustees appointed 20 new missionaries for
overseas service in 12 countries.

Reported by Mark Kelly and Louis Moore.