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Charles Henry Brent was born in Canada in 1862 and was educated at Trinity College, University of Toronto. Ordained in Canada, he came to the United States where, in 1901, he was elected by the House of Bishops as Missionary Bishop of the Philippines. In the Philippines, he began a crusade against the opium trafﬁc, a campaign he later expanded to the continent of Asia. He became President of the Opium Conference in Shanghai in 1909, and represented the United States on the League of Nations Narcotics Committee. He also established cordial relations with the Philippine Independent Church, which led, ultimately, to intercommunion with that Church.
Bishop Brent served as Senior Chaplain of the American Expeditionary Forces in World War I, and in 1918 he accepted election as Bishop of Western New York, having declined three previous elections in order to remain at his post in the Philippines.
Brent was the outstanding ﬁgure of the Episcopal Church on the world scene for two decades. The central focus of his life and ministry was the cause of Christian unity. After attending the World Missionary Conference in Edinburgh in 1910, he led the Episcopal Church in the movement that culminated in the ﬁrst World Conference on Faith and Order, which was held in Lausanne, Switzerland, in 1927, and over which he presided. He died in 1929.
James Thayer Addison, the historian, described Brent as “a saint of disciplined mental vigor, one whom soldiers were proud to salute and whom children were happy to play with, who could dominate a parliament and minister to an invalid, a priest and bishop who gloried in the heritage of his Church, yet who stood among all Christian brothers as one who served … He was everywhere an ambassador of Christ.”
Brent was also a man of prayer. One of his prayers for the mission of the Church has been included in the Book of Common Prayer: “Lord Jesus Christ, you stretched out your arms of love on the hard wood of the cross that everyone might come within the reach of your saving embrace: So clothe us with your Spirit that we, reaching forth our hands in love, may bring those who do not know you to the knowledge and love of you; for the honor of your Name.”
I Heavenly Father, whose Son did pray that we all might be one: Deliver us, we beseech thee, from arrogance and prejudice, and give us wisdom and forbearance, that, following thy servant Charles Henry Brent, we may be united in one family with all who confess the Name of thy Son Jesus Christ; who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
II Heavenly Father, whose Son prayed that we all might be one: Deliver us from arrogance and prejudice, and give us wisdom and forbearance, that, following your servant Charles Henry Brent, we may be united in one family with all who confess the Name of your Son Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
Ephesians 4:1-7, 11-13
Preface of Pentecost
From Holy, Women, Holy Men: Celebrating the Saints © 2010 by The Church Pension Fund. Used by permission.
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We invite your reflections about this commemoration and its suitability for the official calendar and worship of The Episcopal Church. How did this person’s life witness to the Gospel? How does this person inspire us in Christian life today?
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