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Nona L. Brooks

Co-Founder of Divine Science

Nona L. Brooks was born in Louisville, Kentucky, on March 22, 1861 at the start of the Civil War. She was one of a large, quite prosperous family which had come from Virginia to Kentucky. Nona was educated in a private school in Louisville, and later graduated from the Charleston Female Academy. A typicle daughter of a upper middle class family, she entered fully into the social life of the time and the community. She really wanted to marry and rear a family, but none of the men who courted her attracted her sufficiently. Her mother's health required a change of climate so the family moved to Colorado. Her father's business was suddenly swept away by competition, so he entered a new business, mining. Worried and frustrated by the effort required, he suffered a heart attack and died, leaving the family almost penniless.

They were now in Pueblo, Colorado, living on a very much lowered standard. Some of the girls married. Fannie became Mrs. Ben James, and Althea, Mrs. Charles Small. The later was a partner in real estate of Charles Fillmore who was later to found Unity in Kansas City, where he had gone when the Pueblo real estate boom collapsed.

Several of the family were in extremely poor health. Nona Brooks herself developed a serious throat ailment, and finding it difficult to eat solid foods was losing weight steadily. She was under the care of a Pueblo physician, who tried various remedies to stop the disease; but instead it got steadily worse.

A friend of Nona's older sister Althea, a Mrs. Bingham, fell ill. She was referred by her physician to consult a specialist in Chicago. She was told that an operation was required and it might take as much as a year of treatment before she could return home. But she had a family to look after and could not take so much time. Then a friend of hers who had taken classes with the "teacher of teachers," Emma Curtis Hopkins, recommended that she seek her out and see if she might not be healed. She returned home, enthusiastic over her healing and ardent in her desire to help other people. She invited the Brooks sisters to attend a class in which she taught what she had learned from Mrs. Hopkins. Reluctant at first due to their good Presbyterian upbringing, they eventually did so. Mrs. Bingham continually stressed Omnipresence - "God is everywhere, God is all, God is here," which is something they easily accepted as it is what they had always believed. The sisters attended several of her classes and sat listening and repeating whatever she asked them to. Then it happened. Nona wasn't conscious of just when it occured, but suddenly she knew that she was healed.

Little is known about Mrs. Bingham, or what she did afterward. But through her, Emma Curtis Hopkins had once more touched a life and given a start to one who was later to make New Thought history. Other healing experiences occured, which deepened her wonder at and faith in the power of the consciously realized Omnipresence of God. And so it came about that a great minister, who was to bring healing and blessing to multitudes, was born.

But this did not come to pass at once. Other healings occured in cases Nona Brooks was called upon to treat, though at first she did so very reluctantly. She attended normal school for preperation for teaching and became a teacher in the Pueblo private school system, and later moved to Denver to pursue her career as teacher. On one occassion she came very close to marrying, but in the end decided against it.

Meanwhile, her sister, Fannie James, had begun teaching classes, just as Mrs. Bingham had done, in her newfound faith. She held the classes at first in her own house in Denver, though her husband refused to allow her to go out and give treatments. She had corresponded enthusiastically with a woman in San Francisco, Malinda E. Cramer, who through a personal healing had come to something like the same ideas regarding healing that the Brooks sisters had, and who used essentially the same methods. She had given the name Divine Science to the system of teaching which she utilized, and had been ordained a minister. Mrs. Cramer held a class in Denver, and it was this Denver visit which brought her into contact personally with Nona L. Brooks and Fannie James, the co-founders of the Divine Science movement, though she had corresponded with the latter.

Fannie James, influenced by Mrs. Cramer, suggested to her class that they too call their teaching Divine Science. The teachings are scientific, she declared, "because they are proved in our experience," and as to the term Divine, "the subject concerns the understanding of God as Omnipotent." Thus Divine Science came to Denver, and has ever since been thought of as associated with that city. It was New Thought, though not so recognized by name. Mrs. Cramer's coming to Denver and holding largely attended classes and lectures gave added strength to the infant movement there. The understanding between Mrs. Cramer and the Brooks sisters was complete, and they willingly co-operated throughout the years.

By 1918 there were Divine Science churches in Denver, Seattle, Los Angeles, Oakland California, Boston, Portland, Spokane ans St. Louis, and by 1925 churches had been opened in San Diego, Sacramento, California; Topeka, Kansas; Washington, D.C.; two in Illinois; one each in Iowa and Cleveland, Ohio; and two additional ones in the State of Washington. The movement was expanding steadily.

Nona Brooks was often asked to speak at important gatherings. In 1927 she was given a trip abroad by her friends, and spoke in various foreign centers. And she was receiving coveted recognition at home as well. She was asked to serve on Boards for various civic and philanthropic purposes. For years she was a member of the State Prison Board.

At the height of her popularity, she decided to resign as minister of her church. Against great opposition, and only after a man had been found who might replace her temporarily, she was permitted a leave of absence from the church. For a time she was undecided what to do. Then came an opportunity to go to Australia, and she spent a year there, working in Melbourne, Sidney and Adelaide. This was a memorable visit to the Australian New Thought Movement. After that Miss Brooks spent some time in Chicago, serving there in one of the centers; spoke often in summer conferences of New Thought; and spent her winters in San Antonio, Texas.

In 1938 she was invited back to be president of the Divine Science college in Denver, and served it until 1943. It was that year that Dr. Raymond Charles Barker, then president of the International New Thought Alliance, introduced her to a great congress meeting as "Our best loved leader," to the enthusiastic applause of the entire gathering.

Two years later, on March 14, 1945, only eight days before her eighty-fourth birthday, Nona Brooks passed away, one of the really "greats" of the entire New Thought Movement.

The following book by Nona Brooks can be read online:


Click here for a list of Nona Brooks' books and other writings on Divine Science.

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In the light of healing: Sermons

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