Born in Canada and educated at Trinity College, Toronto, Brent was originally stationed at St. Stephen's Episcopal Church in the South End of Boston, where he served as an associate priest. In 1901, after the Philippines were acquired by the United States during the Spanish-American War, the Episcopal Church appointed Brent as Missionary Bishop of the Philippines and arrived on the same ship with the American Governor, William H. Taft. Brent focused on non-Christians, including the Igorots in Luzon, the Muslims, and the Chinese in Manila. He served on several international commissions to stop narcotic trafficking. During World War I, he was the Senior Chaplain for the American Armed Forces in Europe.
He declined three elections to bishoprics in the United States—twice as bishop-elect of the Diocese of Washington in 1908 and also as bishop-elect of the Diocese of New Jersey in 1914—in order to continue his work in the Philippines, but in 1918, he accepted the position of Bishop of Western New York. He helped to organize the first World Conference on Faith and Order, which met in Lausanne, Switzerland, in 1927, and died in Lausanne in 1929. March 27 is the commemoration of Brent in the Episcopal Church. However, as this commemoration commonly falls during Lent or Easter Week in most years, the alternative date of August 25 (his arrival in the Philippines) was recently adopted by the Central Philippines diocese in the Episcopal Church in the Philippines at its 2008 Diocesan Convention.
- Staff report (March 28, 1929). BISHOP BRENT DIES AT 66 IN LAUSANNE; New York Churchman, Former Chief Chaplain of A.E.F., Was on Health Trip. FOUGHT OPIUM TRAFFIC Geneva Recalls Efforts to Get Us Into League--He Will Be Buried at Lausanne. Lausanne Plans Services. Opium Fight Brought Fame. Chosen Bishop of Philippines. BUFFALO MOURNS DR. BRENT. His Wish for Burial Wherever He Died Will Be Fulfilled. MANNING EULOGIZES BRENT. Bishop Says Death Will Be Great Loss to Episcopal Church. GENEVA MOURNS FOR BRENT. League Circles Regret Him as a Supporter of Our Entry. New York Times
- Documents by and about Brent from Project Canterbury
- Charles Henry Brent profile
- “Career of the Rev. C. H. Brent” in the New York Times
- ""Filipinos Do Not Like Americans” says Bishop Brent" in the New York Times