A bomb was found last night on the steps of a black church in Birmingham, a city whose name became synonymous with racial bombings in the 1960s.

Police said the device consisted of two sticks of explosive attached to an alarm clock and a car battery. The clock apparently had been set to go off Tuesday night at the Gallilee Baptist Church, but failed.

"It was not dynamite," said police Sgt. Tom Greene. "It was a binary explosive, sometimes called a compound explosive which is replacing dynamite."

The bomb was discovered by a group of Sunday school teachers at the church in the western part of the city, authorities said. The church pastor said there had not been any racial incidents in the area in years and no one had threatened the church.

In another development yesterday, a compromise desegregation plan between the Birmingham School Board and the Justice Department has been accepted by a federal judge, ending the board's 20-year battle over integration.

U.S. District Court Judge J. Foy Guin Jr. said he "gladly" signed a consent decree in the case, which stems from a 1960 federal lawsuit.

The plan calls for "magnet" programs and middle schools, with what Guin called "a minimum of voluntary busing." Some all-black and all-white schools will be closed under the plan, and students from those schools are to be sent to middle schools to satisfy integration requirements.

The plan is to go into effect next fall.