Brooks, Nona Lovell (1861-1945)

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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 second time in 1943, two years before her death on March 14, 1945.


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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Brooks, Nona Lovell (1861-1945)

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