Rev. Cornal Garnett Henning Sr.

In the space between midnight and daybreak of May 15, Bishop Cornal Garnett Henning Sr. passed away, closing the last chapter of a life lived “on the front line of social and political advancement.” He was 82.

A devoted member of the African Methodist Episcopal Church, The Right Rev. Henning was eulogized at First African Methodist Episcopal Church in Los Angeles on May 23. The internment was held at New Park Cemetery in Memphis after a homegoing service at St. Andrews A.M.E. on May 26.

Those celebrating Mr. Henning’s legacy included the Rev. James Lawson, who is noted as the minister responsible for getting Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to Memphis in support of the striking sanitation workers in 1968. Lawson is pastor emeritus of Holman United Methodist Church and former board chairman of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), Los Angeles.

Mr. Henning was born in Memphis, where he attended Booker T. Washington High School prior to earning his Bachelor of Arts Degree from Wilberforce University and his Master of Theology Degree from Payne Theological Seminary. His first pastoral appointments were in Nashville. In 1972, he was appointed to Ward A.M.E. in Los Angeles, having served previously in the city as a youth minister at First A.M.E.

In the years that followed, Mr. Henning’s ministry and administration in churches and communities where he served was marked by effective activism for social  justice. His numerous ministerial service stops and jurisdiction included West Africa and the Republic of South Africa.

He fought for farmworkers’ rights with Caesar Chavez, traveled to Cuba and Nicaragua on faith-based missions and participated in the Million Man March organized by Minister Louis Farrakhan. Early on he embraced the Black liberation theology espoused by Dr. James H. Cone. He was a member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc.

Mr. Henning leaves his wife, Ernestine Darnester Lee Henning; his daughter, Carma Garnetta Henning (aka Carma Chinyere Love); two sisters, Yvonne Henning Parks and Bishop Elizabeth Anne Henning Byfield; a brother, Dr. Herman William Henning Jr.; and two grandchildren. Preceding his death were two children, Cornal Garnett Jr. and Helaine Aleece; a sister, Zettie Henning; and two brothers, the Rev. John Patrick Henning  and George Miller Henning.

Family, friends and some who admired him from a distance attended a homegoing service for Bishop Cornal Garnett Henning Sr. (Photo: Tyrone P. Easley)