Leadership Gallery

The Reverend Dr. Tollie LeRoy Caution, Sr., 1902-1985

Tollie Caution, 1965

The Reverend Tollie L. Caution, c. 1965.

Born in Baltimore, Maryland, Tollie Caution graduated from Lincoln University and the University of Pennsylvania before receiving a Master of Divinity from the Philadelphia Divinity School. He was ordained a deacon in 1929 and a priest the following year. Before his appointment to Executive Council in 1945, he served as vicar and rector of parishes in Maryland, Pennsylvania, and New York.

Tollie Caution is especially remembered for his work in education and racial relations, having served on the national Church’s Executive Council for 22 years. From 1945 to 1952, he served as secretary for Negro Work and then as assistant secretary for the Department of Domestic Mission until 1957. This was followed by an eleven-year term as secretary of the Home Department Among Ethnic Minority Groups. Caution was a crucial bridge figure who had patiently brought the Church along a path of education, only to be marginalized in the 1960s by white leaders who felt he was not sufficiently progressive.

Active in the civil rights movement, Caution participated in the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom in 1963, the March from Selma to Montgomery in 1965, and other demonstrations in the South. The recruitment of black clergy and work with students at the traditionally black colleges made Caution a well known figure in the Episcopal Church. He served the American Church Institute (ACI) as assistant director from 1953 to 1957 and later as secretary, helping to promote the cause of education of blacks in the southern states. At the ACI black colleges of St. Augustine’s, Voorhees, and Okolona, Caution was active in the Summer Schools of Religious Education program, the Theological Scholarship Committee, and on the Board of Trustees. A life member of the NAACP, Caution also chaired on the National Council of Churches Work Among Migrants, served as secretary of the Conference of Church Workers Among Colored People, served on the Joint Committee on Indian Work and the Joint Committee on Race, and was a charter member of the Union of Black Episcopalians. Upon his retirement in 1968, Caution served as consultant to the Presiding Bishop on pastoral affairs until 1970. Caution was was president of the New York Clericus from 1965 to 1968 and was instituted as Canon Emeritus of the Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine in New York in 1976. He died in 1985. [Sources]