TRINIDAD: Baptist leader dies in airport after trip from NY

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"I am so happy to reach T&T for this pilgrimage."

Those were the last words of Tobago Baptist leader King Shepherd Carlton Callender yesterday as he collapsed seconds after walking out of the VIP lounge of the Piarco International Airport after arriving for a function. Minister of National Diversity and Social Integration Rodger Samuel told the T&T Guardian that he had only minutes before embraced Carlton upon his arrival from New York, along with a 120-member contingent, including Consul General Nan Ramgoolam.

The group arrived for the start of a pilgrimage on the occasion of Spiritual Shouter Baptist Liberation Day. Callender was scheduled to give greetings last evening at the Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar's dinner function celebrating Spiritual Shouter Baptist Liberation Day at the Diplomatic Centre, St Ann's. Samuel said Callender took three months to plan the pilgrimage.

"It was his dream to get people of the faith from New York to come here to T&T to experience our celebrations here and King Shepherd was looking forward and very excited. It is shocking to me knowing that I just hugged him and we spoke and laughed together," Samuel said.

After collapsing, Callender was taken to the Arima Health Facility where he was pronounced dead. Up to late last night ministry officials and some members of the American contingent were at the facility. Samuel, on behalf of his ministry, extended condolences to Callender's family and fellow members of the faith. Archbishop Barbara Gray Burke, in her greetings at the function, reminisced on the time she met with Callender in Brooklyn. She said she believed he had fulfilled his assignment here on earth and was prepared for the journey in the afterlife.

 

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