UK clergy discusses race

Published 12:00 am Monday, May 9, 2005

A small delegation from Great Britain and Ireland met with the mayor and members of One Selma on Saturday as part of a fact-finding mission to gain a better understanding of race relations in the U.S.

The group’s visit to Selma was part of a 12-day tour of the U.S. that is taking them through Washington, D.C., Atlanta, Chicago, Michigan and New York.

The group of six men and women, each representing a different Christian denomination, were all members of the international Churches Commission for Racial Justice.

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Judith Comer, of Greensboro, served as a guide through the group’s tour of Alabama. Comer said her husband, an Episcopalian priest, invited the group to Alabama after speaking with the Churches Commission for Racial Justice in England.

“There are 12 people in the group in all, with six of them visiting Birmingham. They represent various denominations from Wales, Scotland, England, and Ireland,” Comer said. “They met with Mayor (James) Perkins (Saturday) morning and took a tour of Brown Chapel AME Church.”

Sister Joan Roddy of Ireland, representing the Roman Catholic Church, said she was impressed after speaking with the mayor about race relations in Selma.

“There is no easy way to forget about the past,” Sister Roddy said. “We want to learn about what can help us move on.”

Selma One Chairman Dr. Park Chittom, along with member Alston Fitts, met with the group to explain about Selma’s segregated past and how this area has changed since the passage of the Voting Rights Act.

“We’ve been getting a very good look at issues of reconciliation through the Christian perspective,” said Sister Roddy.

After their meeting, the international group prepared to move on to their next destination in the U.S.

“This has been a really exciting trip,” Sister Roddy said. “I’ve been to California before, but I’ve never been anywhere else in the U.S.”

The group plans to take what they have learned from their trip back overseas to help improve race relations in their own countries.