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The black choir clapped and swayed, propelled by the organ’s groove and drums’ beat as gospel music filled the tiny New Life in Christ Church on Compton Avenue.

The rhythm came naturally, but when it was time to sing, the choir had to turn to sheet music to keep from stumbling over the Spanish lyrics.

Two years after this African-American Pentecostal congregation of about 100 people welcomed their Latino neighbors, the two groups are still trying to stay in tune in a part of the city that has not always lived in harmony.

For Pastor Elwood Carson, reaching out to his Spanish-speaking neighbors and steering his small African-American congregation towards bilingualism is a Christian duty and a matter of survival as his small flock scatters to the suburbs and Mexican immigrants move in. For the Church of God in Christ, it’s a return to the birth of Pentecostalism.

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