Bread Not Stones

Bread Not Stones

the Autobiography of an Eventful Life

Spiritual autobiography of a truly remarkable woman and a history of the struggle for ordination in the Church of England.


The life journey of a woman who – as a medical doctor, missionary nun, pioneer of gender equality, Anglican priest, and now a contemplative Catholic – influenced the lives of thousands.

Una Kroll is one of the most outspoken campaigners for the ordination of women. She achieved a certain notoriety in 1978 at the Church of England’s General Synod when its members turned down a proposal to prepare legislation to ordain women to the priesthood. Quoting from Matthew 7:9, she shouted from the gallery “We asked you for bread and you gave us a stone.”

2014 marks the 20th anniversary of the ordination of women on the Church of England and 2015 will almost certainly see the consecration of women as bishops. This celebration will both rekindle interest in the history of the movement for women's ordination and also serve to further ignite debate for the same in the Roman Catholic Church.

Una Kroll told Edward Stourton on Sunday programme on BBC Radio 4 about the campaign for the full inclusion of women into the Anglican church and her role in it. Listen again at


Una Kroll’s forthcoming autobiography – Bread not Stones – examines an extraordinary life always driven by a deep Christian faith and a concern for the disadvantaged women of the world. Una Kroll, whose autobiography Bread not Stones comes out in December 2014, is perhaps best known as an ardent campaigner for Anglican women priests. She achieved a certain notoriety in 1978 at the Church of England’s General Synod when its members turned down a proposal to prepare legislation to ordain women to the priesthood. Quoting from Matthew 7:9, she shouted from the gallery “We asked you for bread and you gave us a stone.” Her spontaneous reaction reflected her disappointment – and that of many others – that the Mother Church (of a world-wide family of Anglican Churches throughout the world) had missed the opportunity to admit women to its ordained ministries and hence lost the chance to become a more effective advocate for millions of women condemned to hunger, poverty, inequality of education and opportunities for work, and who were subject to discriminatory treatment simply because of their gender. Now in her late Eighties, Una Kroll shows in this compelling autobiography how this concern for the disadvantaged women of the world, together with a deep but non-sectarian Christian faith, has been a constant force during an eventful and sometimes turbulent life. ~ Manchester Cathedral

Una Kroll has written her interesting autobiography with an openness and clarity that manages to explore deep theological truths and complex experiences in a way that is understandable, engaging and encourages useful reflection. She uses her own experiences, and those of others, to explore the changes of direction in her work and life as wife, mother, doctor and priest and explains candidly where she is now. This is, as she says, as she approaches the end of her life. Of particular interest to me was how she transformed past wounds into a creative present, particularly her experience as a campaigner for women's ministry in the Anglican church, and justice in institutional Christianity. Now she has discovered an understanding and partnership with those with whom she disagrees. Her writing about unconditional Creative Love is inspirational and illustrates conv9ncingly how transformation happens had how she can work with, and understand, those opposed to her views, if their work is "pointing to love". This is helpful to those engaged in prophetic and potentially confrontational work in campaigning groups such as Catholic Women's Ordination (CWO) of which she and I are both members. (CWO campaigns for women's ordination in a renewed Catholic Church.) her book helps to explain how one can, with integrity, become or remain a Catholic, willingly nourished by its sacramental radical vision of love, some of its social and contemplative tradition, yet seeing its institutional flaws and wishing to reform what has increasingly become more of an unresponsive, clerical, patriarchal institution. I used to listen to Una on the radio in the 1970's and came to recognise that she had planted a seed which remained dormant in my own life until the 1990's. I knew she had recently become a Catholic and this book helped me, and will explain to others why she took this step to jump "from the frying pan into the fire" as a woman seeking institutional justice for women, first in the Anglican Church and now in the Catholic Church. ~ Pippa Bonner, CWO

Una Kroll has written a remarkable book from her perspective both as a medical doctor and as one of the first women priests in the Church in Wales. The stories Una recounts reveal a woman with a passionate humanity, brilliant intellect and deep spiritual insight. As both doctor and priest, Una has been a pioneering advocate for women: whether introducing new healthcare treatments or being one of the most outspoken campaigners for women’s ordination. Ultimately, though, Una has written a spiritual biography of women’s struggle for full inclusion in the Church’s ministries and mission, with her most profound reflections revealing an evolving understanding of God as creative energy and unconditional love. ~ Christina Rees broadcaster and writer, and member of General Synod of the Church of England.

This is an important book. It documents the life journey of a woman who –as a medical doctor, a missionary nun in Africa, a pioneer of gender equality, a priest in the Church of England, a contemplative Catholic– influenced the lives of thousands of people. She records her own inner struggles of search, doubt, loss of faith and rediscovering God with disarming frankness and deep insight. She narrates the complex stories of individuals she served with great sensitivity and an intense human involvement. We see God in action: as Creative Energy and Unconditional Love. I recommend this book to Christian women who want to know 'from the inside’ what early women in ministry had to endure. I recommend the book to those who, like Una Kroll herself, comb the fabric of our modern world in pursuit of an elusive God. I recommend the book to everyone fascinated by the spiritual adventures and practical wisdom of an exceptional champion of a God who is Love. ~ Dr John Wijngaards, author of The Ordination of Women in the Catholic Church: Unmasking A Cuckoo's Egg Tradition

Una Kroll's spiritual journey is unique - a doctor, medical missionary, a nun, a priest, a mother, author, a solitary and spiritual friend of many; this book tells the story of her life with honesty, integrity, sorrow, joy and the loving compassion that makes Una one of the most amazing people I have ever met. ~ Rt Rev Dominic Walker OGS, former bishop of Monmouth and member of the Oratory of the Good Shepherd

Una's life is driven by her longing to do what she feels God requires of her. She is a mother and grandmother. She is a Doctor but also she has been an anchorite, and a nun living in a religious community. She has stood on the platform of Women's Rights for Parliament. She is a well-known author and commentator on matters religious. This book is a page turner.' ~ Donald Reeves MBE, Anglican priest, former rector of St James Piccadilly; Director of the Soul of Europe.

Una Kroll: Mystic, Physician, Feminist, Rebel, Priest-Theologian, Activist and Contemplative Nun, at the heart of life yet never far from the edge. Like real life, her pilgrimage is full of contradictions, astonishing, outrageous, and despite herself, authentically Christian. An adventurous read. ~ Paul Oestreicher, Anglican Priest and Quaker, former director of Coventry Cathedral's Centre for International Reconciliation.

Una Kroll
Una Kroll Una Kroll, MD, is a doctor and priest who practiced many years in a pastoral setting. A devoted campaigner for sexual equality, she was one ...
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