Erlinda Brent has devoted the last 24 years of her life to her work and the community she serves on the Upper East Side. She is the parish secretary for The Church of the Holy Trinity, but her commitment to serving the community is more than just her involvement with the church – it is in her nature.
Before coming to The Church of the Holy Trinity, Brent spent 14 years working in the advertising department for a newspaper in Westchester. She left that job to pursue a graduate degree. After one year of schooling, she ran of money.
“And I just took a new avenue,” she said. “I always wanted to live and work in the city. And this opened up.”
She first worked at All Saints Episcopal Church, before coming to The Church of the Holy Trinity, on East 88th Street, in October 1998.
“I didn’t think that it was going to be temporary, but I didn’t think that I would be in it as long as I have been,” Brent said. “So I guess that must mean I like it, huh?”
Brent grew up in Washington D.C. and was raised Catholic.
“I went Catholic grammar school, a Catholic prep school, and a Catholic college,” she said. “And my grandfather was a Baptist minister who was really embarrassed that he had Catholic grandchildren.”
She said she loves working at The Church of the Holy Trinity because it is an Episcopal church, and it has contributed to her open-mindedness towards other religions and makes her an ecumenical person. Brent now considers herself a “vagabond free spirit” when it comes to religious traditions, since she does a call-in with a Buddhist group and she has celebrated Passover with Jewish friends.
Up until the pandemic, Brent was organized the church’s annual street fair – a mixing pot of music, food, and overall goodwill, as she said.
Brent also works of the church’s charity, through its Holy Trinity Neighborhood Center. Its programs have also been slowed due to the pandemic.
“At full blast ... we had a nightly shelter,” she said.
The center also held luncheons for seniors and neighborhood supper on Saturdays. “We welcomed anyone who was hungry, they didn’t have to be homeless, or there were no qualifications,” Brent said. “If they were hungry, they were welcome.”
Apart from her work with the church, Brent is a beacon in the community. She stands up for what (and who) she believes in. That includes attending, and speaking at, a Black Lives Matter vigil held in June 2020 at Carl Schurz Park – with a sign she made depicting the men in her family whom she holds dearest – to being an advocate for voting, to her work with Pledge to Protect and the “Roll Up Your Sleeves, New York” print ads (she was in a COVID vaccine trial and is proud to have been vaccinated in the trials).
The Church of the Holy Trinity’s mission is to show and share the love of God. Brent is a vessel for this purpose. To talk with Brent is to be held in the embrace of family.
“I really like people,” Brent said. “And one thing that this provides me is the opportunity to connect with others in so many different ways.”
“We welcomed anyone who was hungry, they didn’t have to be homeless ... If they were hungry, they were welcome.” Erlinda Brent, parish secretary, The Chuch of the Holy Trinity