Brooks, Nona Lovell (1861–1945)
Nona Lovell Brooks, a founder of the Divine Science
Church, was born March 22, 1861, in Louisville, Kentucky, and
grew up in Charleston, West Virginia, where her family moved
to escape the Civil War. She was raised as a Presbyterian in a
strongly religious home, and as a child had an intense experience
of being engulfed by a supernatural light.
During her teen years, the family moved to Pueblo, Colorado,
where Brooks came face to face with New Thought metaphysics.
She had developed a sore throat that would not clear
up. Her sister Althea suggested that she attend some classes
being offered by Kate Bingham, an independent teacher of
Christian Science. Bingham had gone to Chicago to seek help
for an illness and had been cured by Mabel MacCoy, a student
of Emma Curtis Hopkins. Hopkins’s independent brand of
Christian Science formed the basis of New Thought.
While sitting in Bingham’s class, Brooks was particularly affected
by Bingham’s discussion of the omnipresence of God. As
she came to this fresh understanding of God, she was healed,
and that evening, for the first time in many months, she ate a
normal meal without pain. The sisters shared the story with
their minister, who invited them to speak, but the church elders
stepped in. They prevented the talk and fired Brooks from her
church school teaching job. She in turn quit the church.
After finishing her schooling in Pueblo, Brooks went east for
a year where she attended Wellesley College. After she returned
home, she taught school for two years before moving to
Denver, where her other sister, Fanny, lived. Fanny was also influenced
by Hopkins and Bingham and had been holding
metaphysical classes. She also began corresponding with
Melinda Cramer, who developed her own variation of Christian
Science called Divine Science, and Fanny began to use that
name for her work. The two sisters opened the Divine Science
College in 1898. Responding to a call from the students that
they hold Sunday services, Nona Brooks went to San Francisco
to be ordained by Cramer. They held their first service in Denver
on January 1, 1899.
Cramer died from injuries received in the April 1906 earthquake
in San Francisco. The center of the Divine Science movement
shifted to Denver, and Brooks became its key leader for
the next four decades. By this time she had started the monthly
magazine Fulfillment. During the years of World War I, when
many metaphysical leaders came together to found the International
New Thought Alliance, Brooks helped organize the
opposition, primarily among leaders in the western states.
However, by 1922 she had worked out her differences with the
organization and led the ministers and members of the Divine
Science movement into it. She became a prominent leader and
popular speaker for the alliance.
The last decades of Brooks’s life were ones of triumph. Divine
Science grew speedily into an international association of
metaphysical churches, and Brooks became a well-recognized
religious leader in Denver, overcoming opposition both to her
gender and her minority beliefs. In 1926 she was invited to join
the local ministerial alliance. She served on a variety of civic
boards and agencies, including the Colorado State Prison
Board. She tried to retire and for a period in the early 1930s
settled in Australia, where she opened several churches, but
upon her return to Colorado in 1938 she was immediately
asked to resume leadership of the movement. She retired a secBroceliande
Encyclopedia of Occultism & Parapsychology • 5th Ed.
220
ond time in 1943, two years before her death on March 14,
1945.
Sources
Braden, Charles. Spirits in Rebellion. Dallas, 1963.
Brooks, Louise McNamara. Early History of Divine Science.
Denver First Divine Science Church, 1963.
Brooks, Nona L. Mysteries. Denver The Author, 1924.
———. The Prayer that Never Fails. Denver The Author,
1935.
———. Short Lessons in Divine Science. Denver The Author,
1928.
Neale, Hazel. Powerful Is the Light. Denver Divine Science
College, 1945.

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