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Places of worship prepare to welcome their faithful back to in-person services

ROCKFORD (WREX) — From the outside it doesn't look like much has changed at the Muslim Association of Greater Rockford. Inside, you'll find all the changes being implemented due to COVID-19.

"We have directional arrows, we have entrances and exits clearly marked to facilitate one way traffic through the building," says MAGR public relations chair Sameena Zahurullah.

MAGR is encouraging the older population and those with underlying health conditions to stay home for their own safety. Masks are required to enter the building and six feet of social distancing is enforced throughout the building. The social distancing means not everyone will be able to worship at the mosque.

"In a normal situation we would have close to 450 people in this prayer hall for Friday prayer. We measured it out and our capacity in this room is 90 people."

Meanwhile the Rockford Salvation Army Temple Corps is working to figure out what its new normal looks like. It's working to follow national Salvation Army guidelines along with local constraints.

"So we're still in the planning stages on that and haven't made any definitive decisions on when we'll be back and what that's going to require with numbers of people," says Major Mark Martsolf.

In the meantime the church will continue to provide virtual services. For those who can't stream this, Major Mark is doing his part to take church to them.

"I've being going to my shut ins. A lot of times I take my guitar, my wife and I go and from a safe distance out in their yard we'll sing some songs then we'll have a word of prayer."

Major Mark adds he records a message from congregants during this visits to share with the rest of the congregation during virtual service.

Mary Sugden

Mary Sugden is the Investigative Reporter at WREX. She joined the team in December 2014 as the evening producer. In 2015 she made the move to evening reporter before joining the 13 Investigates team in May of 2018.

She grew up in Woodstock, Illinois and graduated from Woodstock High School in 2009. Mary graduated with a degree in Journalism and Marketing from Loyola University Chicago in 2013.

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