During the 1940s, two professional women with great vision, faith, and strength of character fulfilled a great dream: to bring to Puerto Rico the philosophy of life followed and taught by Unity School of Christianity at Unity Village, Missouri. They were Rafaela Meléndez and her younger sister, Concha Meléndez, two outstanding educators.
Rafaela, who was a Spanish teacher, visited Unity Village for the first time during the 1940s and was healed of an illness she suffered. After that transformative experience, she decided to introduce Unity teachings in Puerto Rico. She was the first Hispanic minister ordained by Unity. In 1945 she started informal meetings on the island to study Unity principles, first at the Puerto Rican Athenaeum and then at the Carnegie Library in San Juan. In 1959, with her sister Concha, she officially founded the first Spanish Unity ministry, her heartfelt dream, in a building at Condado Street.
Rafaela and Concha Meléndez were two trailblazer interpreters of the Christly Truth that Jesus taught us: “Strive first for the kingdom of God.”
The current temple, located on Victoria Street in Santurce, was inaugurated in 1969. It was the fruit of a process guided by faith and the certainty that God was the source. When the task seemed too arduous and the money appeared to be scarce, the words of Rafaela resounded, reminding others with great conviction and loving authority: This is what the congregation needs, and God will provide the substance.
She also prophesied with absolute conviction: At the new building, there will be a substantial increase of the congregation, and we’ll all be prosperous. For those who love God, everything is possible. This prophecy became a tangible fact through the years. The temple was built at an onerous cost for those times, yet the loan was repaid much earlier than the due date.
Yes, God provided and continues to provide.
Expressions of the Love of God
Members of the congregation describe Rev. Meléndez as a woman of unwavering faith, great strength, and moral stature. She was also seen as equilibrated, serene, tenacious, sure of herself, firm, and an enthusiast with great vision and Christly love.
Nothing stopped her in her efforts to expand Unity teachings, a mindset she instilled in her sister Concha, a distinguished writer and literary critic who received multiple recognitions and honors in Puerto Rico and abroad.
Particularly, in 1932 Concha was the first woman to obtain her doctoral degree in philosophy from the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM). She was professor and director of the Department of Hispanic Studies, humanities faculty of the University of Puerto Rico, and worked in other universities in Mexico, Venezuela, and the United States.
In 1956, after Concha retired from the university, she spoke at a tribute from the Association of Women Graduates of the University of Puerto Rico, saying, “Today … this gray-suited woman standing before you is younger than ever because of her spiritual advancement that makes an adventure of every conscious hour. She looks at a flower, a cloud, at the affection she receives with joyous gratitude, because she sees them as expressions of the love of God.”
Teachers, Translators, Trailblazers
After retirement, Concha transformed her college professor life and dedicated the rest of her days to disseminating Unity Truth principles with her sister Rafaela. She became the first Spanish translater of Daily Word®, known as La Palabra Diaria.
Later, she guided the posthumous publication of a book by Rafaela Meléndez, En quietud y confianza (In Stillness and Trust), a compilation of the universal Truth principles that Unity teaches, published in 1978. Valuable messages can be highlighted, such as:
God is creative intelligence that moves throughout the whole universe. You are the vessel in which it rests to express itself, according to your consciousness.
No condition or circumstance can bind the soul in slavery when it has conscious contact with the great God-Mind.
The Spirit within you, the perfect idea of the spiritual man in the divine mind, is the eternal inhabitant.
When we love God, we forget all selfish desires and become brave and secure in ourselves. When we love God, our consciousness is harmonized and our external affairs are put in order. When we love God, the truth inside our heart destroys the walls of separation, and we feel the flow of infinite love Jesus felt.
Rafaela and Concha Meléndez were two trailblazer interpreters of the Christly Truth that Jesus taught us: “Strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well” (Matthew 6:33).
Blessed are they in their eternal journey.