Nona Brooks, Co-Founder of Divine Science
The Early History of Divine Science, as told by Nona Lovell Brooks.
In the spring of 1887 three sisters began their study of metaphysics. Their names in order of age were Alethea Brooks Small, Fannie Brooks James and I, Nona Lovell Brooks.
Come back with me to 1886. I was living at that time in Pueblo, Colorado, with my sister, Mrs. Small. A close friend had been ill for some months. The physicians were not able to do anything for her and in the spring of that year sent her to Chicago to consult with specialists. After a thorough examination they told our friend that she was in a most critical condition; that they could not promise a healing but her one chance was to stay in Chicago for a year and take a certain treatment.
“But I cannot do that, “ she replied. “I have a husband and four little children that I cannot leave for a year.”
“If I were you, “ suggested a friend, “before I made any decision I would try a lady here who is doing some wonderful healing. I do not know her teaching, but I know several who have been healed by her and they were very ill, too.”
Immediate connection was made with Emma Curtis Hopkins, who for so many years was an outstanding teacher of spiritual mysticism. Three weeks of study and treatment with Mrs. Hopkins brought Mrs. Frank Bingham back to Pueblo, radiant with health and joy. As soon as she could, she came across town to tell us the wonderful story.
Friends and neighbors began asking Mrs. Bingham to tell them what had brought about her transformation. Informal classes grew up in response to these requests; she gave in simple language what she had learned from Mrs. Hopkins. We were always invited to these meetings, and, knowing how much we needed what she was giving, she finally was so insistent that we accepted. We were, as a family, in sad condition physically and financially but we did not think her classes would help us and it was most difficult for us to undertake anything of this kind.
I, myself, was in very poor physical condition, being able to eat only very soft, especially prepared food. For more than a year I had been praying almost constantly “God give me light.” Then on the Sunday before we were to start our new lessons with Mrs. Bingham, I attended my church, where during the communion service the song to be sung was, Nearer My God to Thee. I could not bring myself to sing the first stanza—“nearer my God to Thee, nearer to Thee, e’en tho’ it be a cross that raiseth me.” I rebelled—I and my family had had all the crosses we could possibly bear. As the congregation sang I was filled with an inner turmoil, but as the song progressed I realized a complete surrender of myself and of the family conditions in order that I might be nearer to God, and so I was able to sing the last stanza with the others.
It was during the fourth class lesson, which eight of us were taking with Mrs. Bingham, that my whole being was completely flooded with a great light—a light brighter than sunlight, brighter than any other light I had ever seen. It filled me! It surrounded me! I was conscious of nothing but that intense white light! I thought that of course all in the room had seen the light too, but they had not. I alone had experienced this wonderful light which flooded my entire being and which I discovered had healed me instantly and completely.
Tho’ the actual healing was instantaneous, yet I truly believe that the months and months of praying that I might receive light had been a preparation for the healing which had actually come to me in the form of light.
I love to tell of the blessed change in outlook that came to us of our remarkable healing; of the quick improvement of the financial situation. In fact our entire lives were transformed. Were we enthusiastic! Who would not be!
We were deeply grateful for all of these blessings and yet, while believing in nearly all of what we had been taught, there were several points with which we were not fully in accord. One of these was: We did not believe that the visible universe did not exist but was delusion and was to be denied. Our reason revolted at this and we decided that form was the product of God’s creative activity that this wonderful world was not to be denied but to be understood and interpreted.
We took our stand then and there in the thought that in our thinking and living we were to emphasize God and His action in our lives. We knew that no wrong thought or anything else undesirable could touch us so long as we centered our attention on God’s presence instead of on man’s false concepts. There were other less important points that we saw differently; however, we were so happy in our new freedom that we said nothing about these non-acceptances.
We had at that time no thought of establishing a movement. We discussed the entire subject for our own satisfaction and in order that, when questioned, we could give answers satisfactory to our own perception of truth. And with this in view we began our study of the visible. It was not long before we had systematized the teaching that Divine Science was the first to promulgate: All creation is the expression of God and partakes of the same substance. All of the power and beauty in nature is the result of God’s fiat going forth—“Let there be and it was so.” The universe of form is the Word of God. It is good from center to circumference, wholly good, like its Creator.
Now let me tell you something which intrigues me greatly and which shows how we came to call our teaching Divine Science. During these early years while we three sisters were earnestly studying our basis, the omnipresence of God, in order to discover ever deeper meaning of this fundamental truth of our philosophy and to learn to apply it more definitely to the welfare of ourselves and others, a lady in San Francisco, Malinda E. Cramer, whom we did not know, and who did not know us, was working along the same line. After many years of invalidism she had been healed through her own realization of God’s presence. Her book, “Divine Science and Healing,” tells of this.
Mrs. Cramer’s immediate thought was to get over to the world her great discovery of God’s power in each individual life. She burned with desire to show others that through the knowledge of truth they could be freed from disease, poverty, and inharmonies of all kinds. She held meetings and taught classes in her home in San Francisco. She also did much successful healing work. She incorporated her college under the name of Home College of Divine Science in 1887. In 1889 Mrs. Cramer came to Denver and taught her first class here. We found to our delight that her teaching tallied with ours to a “T.” We, who up to this time, had been nameless asked that we might call our teaching Divine Science also. She most graciously granted this and from that time on there was fine cooperation between the two groups.
The coming together of two closely related streams of thought has always been thrilling to me. Three sisters in Colorado and one dynamic woman in California, unknown to each other, thought out the same outline of teaching. They were consecrated to Truth, open to the Inner Word, and both received the same message. When they came face to face they knew they belonged together, and there was closest feeling of unity between them. Mrs. Cramer’s teaching was so deep that only profound thinkers could understand her, consequently she never had a large number in her group. However, her healings were among the most remarkable I have seen. After her passing in 1907, Denver became headquarters of the Divine Science activities.
Meanwhile in Denver, friends kept asking for help and in a short time classes started. Mrs. Small who had moved to Denver, cared for the healing part of the work; Mrs. James held classes in her home; I was teaching in the public schools, first in Pueblo, then in Denver, but in the summer of 1896 resigned from school work and began definite activity in teaching and healing.
The work outgrew Mrs. James’ home and moved to an office and classroom downtown, 1410 Curtis Street, given by Mrs. David Moffat, who had been remarkably healed. Mrs. Cramer was our guest of honor at our opening celebration. I love to think of those days so full of consecration and joy.
Our work was successful and grew steadily. In 1898 we incorporated the Divine Science College that we might train teachers, organize churches, develop practitioners and ordain ministers. I was ordained that year and on January 1, 1899, which fell on Sunday, I took charge of the first church organized by our college, The First Divine Science Church of Denver. I served in this capacity for thirty years. Mrs. James was president of the college for fifteen years and when she passed on I served until 1929. During these years the work continued to grow, we moved from our classroom on Curtis Street to our church as 17th Avenue and Clarkson Street. Later we were guided by the Spirit to build the present beautiful church and college at 14th Avenue and Williams Street. The first services were held in the new church on June 25, 1922, and the building was dedicated on October 15, 1922.
There have been many valuable helpers all along the way, to whom great credit is due; I which I could name them. Without them the work cold not have become so powerful as it is today; they have been highly appreciated by the many who received help from them.
We are growing and shall continue to do so, for our teaching is based on the changeless rock of Divine Being. It teaches the truth of God and His creation; of Man and his oneness with the Father; of unity as the basic law of the universe; and of the consciousness of each one of us.
Divine Science acknowledges every advance in the world of natural science, art, and religion, as the further expansion of God-consciousness in man. It proclaims the right of man, through right thinking and true living, to health, wealth, happiness, and power. It insists that these blessings are to be realized by the royal law that Jesus gave: “Seek ye first His Kingdom and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added to you.”
Many churches and through the world are giving strong Divine Science teaching. And we are still expanding. The world needs us. Let’s give it our best.