Mennonite Healthcare FellowshipBlog article
Curtis W. Book is passionate about countering gun violence in his hometown of Philadelphia. At this year’s MHF Annual Gathering, Curtis will join J. Fred Kauffman in their workshop on addressing the public health problem of gun violence.
Curtis has worked and lived abroad for 23 years with Brethren in Christ World Missions. Throughout his tenure living outside the United States, Curtis worked for pastoral leadership development in the United Kingdom, Zimbabwe, Nicaragua, and Colombia. In 2008, Curtis joined MCC East Coast as a Peace and Justice Coordinator, where he works to this day. He is a member of Circle of Hope Church and enjoys cycling, carpentry, reading and pondering puzzles in his spare time.
While living in Colombia from 1994 to 2005, Curtis gained momentum for his current action against gun violence. During that time, he completed his theological education through Brethren in Christ and Mennonite Churches. It was in Colombia where he was first challenged by the ideals of Liberation Theology. During his time abroad, he felt convicted to actively work towards peace and justice in his world, but more specifically, in his home community. Going beyond accepting the gospel as only that of a salvation story, Curtis hoped to extend his understanding of the gospel to encompass the greater community.
Curtis hopes that by expanding the view of the gospel beyond simply that of individual salvation and a personal relationship with God, its relevance to the social, political and economic realities in which we live can be increased. This idea has greatly influenced his everyday life and motivates him in his work for peace and justice.
As evident in Philadelphia, urban areas provide opportunities for collaboration among individuals and for fostering creativity, community and a sense of togetherness. At the same time, urban areas often carry problems such as poverty, homelessness, unemployment, and violence. Living in Philadelphia, Curtis bears witness to the injustices and need for peace, justice, and ethical responses on a daily basis. It is here in his hometown where Curtis sees potential for the gospel to transform individuals and challenge systems of oppression.
Philadelphia has one of the highest levels in the nation of gun homicides but Curtis is working to see that changed. At this year’s MHF Annual Gathering, Curtis and Fred Kauffman will share about the culture of violence in the United States. They want to increase awareness of the lethality of guns as compared to other forms of violence and help organize our faith communities in a stance against gun violence.
It takes time, says Curtis, but change is possible! As followers of Christ, we must be purveyors of a moral conscience against gun violence in our everyday lives and communities. Gun violence in our cities can be decreased and Curtis believes we can be a part of that change.