A Brief History of Divine ScienceThe First Church in the New Thought Movement
The Early History of Divine Science
The Divine Science Movement has two roots, each considered a separate work, that later combined. The first root began in 1885 by Malinda E. Cramer of San Francisco, California. The second root had its beginning in 1887 by Nona L. Brooks, Fannie James, and Alethea Small of Pueblo, Colorado. These women were truly spiritual pioneers of their day.
Malinda E. Cramer’s Story 1844-1906
The Divine Science movement began in 1885 after Malinda Cramer had an extraordinary experience of the Light. Most of her life she had been ill, seeking out doctors for all kinds of treatment. In 1870 she moved to San Francisco by recommendation of her doctor in hope that the climate would improve her health.
Malinda was raised a Quaker, and it was her practice to meditate and pray on a regular basis. In Malinda’s own words “It was early one morning in the year 1885, during an hour of earnest meditation and prayerful seeking, that I asked the following question in faith, believing that they would be answered, with a willingness to abide the decision, whatever it might be. Is there any way out of these conditions? Is there any power in the vast universe that can heal me?”
“The answer to my earnest inquiry, as to whether there was any power that could heal me, was an all absorbing realization of a Presence not heretofore realized. I realized it to be my life, my being, my health, knowledge and power. It was an all ‘consuming fire’ in that all things became It. Simultaneously to finding myself in God, I experienced the indrawing of all things; that is, that all are embraced within one eternal God and Father, or One Infinite’s Creation, I beheld what to me was a new heaven and a new earth.”
“There was before me a six-pointed star, pure and clear as diamond light, its center calm and clear as pure crystal, and radiating the Light of Life. My experience was that the bliss of Being (God Spirit) is the most perfect peace imaginable. Do you wonder at my earnestness in preaching this gospel of freedom, or at my determination to do all in my power to forward this movement of Truth and extend it throughout the world, and bring all to a knowledge of the Truth of Unity and Brotherhood?” Mrs. Cramer was healed first in belief then in body after twenty-five years as an invalid.
Malinda began to share her understanding in teaching and healing. As early as 1887 Malinda taught in Denver, Colorado. Then in 1888 the Home College of Divine Science was incorporated, and the publishing of Harmony magazine began. For more than 18 years she made a strong and positive contribution to the New Thought movement with her ministry, monthly publication, and nationwide tours teaching and healing. Notably, Malinda’s tours took her to Charles and Myrtle Fillmore of Unity and Hopkins College. Harmony magazine had subscribers throughout the United States, Australia and the United Kingdom.
In 1892 Malinda chartered the International Divine Science Association (IDSA) to bring natural scientists together from around the globe. This was the early prototype of today’s International New Thought Alliance (INTA). Malinda held conferences uniting some of the great thinkers of the day.
Abruptly, the end came to Malinda Cramer’s works. The Home College burned to the ground following the San Francisco earthquake of 1906. Due to injuries sustained, Malinda Cramer made her transition in August 1906. Her last issue of Harmony was volume 18, issue 7. The movement carried on in Denver, Colorado.
Nona L. Brooks’ Story 1861-1945
Back in 1887, the story begins with the Brooks sisters; Nona L. Brooks, Fannie (Brooks) James, and Alethea (Brooks) Small. They were residing in Pueblo, Colorado when the sisters began their spiritual quest. Up until this time they had been faithful, practicing Presbyterians. In Nona’s own words “I was living with my oldest sister, Mrs. Alethea Brooks Small; I was in very poor physical condition; able to eat only very soft and specially prepared food. Most of our family was in sad condition, both physically and financially.
“A close friend, Mrs. Frank Bingham, had been ill for months, sought out medical specialists in Chicago. They held out no hope unless she remained in Chicago for a year and took a specific treatment. Mrs. Bingham knew she couldn’t be away from her husband and four young children for a year. She was advised to contact a lady in Chicago, an outstanding teacher of spiritual mysticism, Emma Curtis Hopkins. Three weeks of study and treatment brought Mrs. Frank Bingham back to Pueblo, radiant with health and joy. She shared what she knew with friends and neighbors, but we were reluctant, not feeling her message was for us.
“For more than a year I had been praying almost constantly, ‘Light! Father in Heaven, give me Light.’”
“Finally, Mrs. Bingham’s persistence paid off — we agreed to go to her meetings. We attended several classes, then, it was in the fourth class 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, of course, all in the room had seen the light too, but they had not. I alone had experienced this wonderful light that flooded my entire being; I then discovered I had been healed instantly and completely.”
“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. It was not long before we had systematized the teaching.”
Nona and her sisters expanded their understanding by meditating, affirming prayer, and applying principle. They also studied world religions and other teachings. They kept the truth from each while leaving behind any dogma. Earnestly studying they came to some of their own conclusions, which was somewhat different from Mrs. Bingham’s. They rejected the idea of a nonexistent universe, since it was visible. Instead they decided that form was the product of God’s creative activity and that the visible world was something not to be denied, but to be interpreted correctly and understood. This concept became known as the Omnipresence of God.
In 1889, Malinda Cramer came to Denver, Colorado. The Brooks sisters found that their teaching was exactly the same, and they asked if they could use Divine Science as the name for their teaching. A partnership was formed.
The Colorado College of Divine Science was incorporated in 1898. Nona was ordained by Malinda Cramer December 1, 1898, and the First Divine Science Church of Denver was incorporated in 1899.
Nona Brooks, teacher-minister-healer, traveled on tours teaching and healing throughout the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia. She helped to form many churches and centers.
Nona Brooks peacefully transitioned in 1945. Prior to her transition, Nona said, “It is not a religion we are making, it is a life.”