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Mentor Christian Church Grateful For Good Neighbor

Ali Mandovi, a local businessman, has bought the nearly 100-year-old church and is restoring it

The congregation of the Mentor Christian Church was backed into a corner earlier this year.

Their numbers had dwindled to the point to about 40 members. They could no longer afford to maintain their attractive but aged building, which was constructed in 1914.

Their chuch was even more historic than the building that housed it. The congregation, which is affiliated with the Disciples of Christ, was founded in 1828 and the man who would become president, James A. Garfield, had preached to them.

And all that history was being threatened because the church could not afford the upkeep of their building and needed to sell the property.

Fortunately, the church has a neighbor who appreciates their history.

Ali Mandovi is not a member of the Mentor Christian Church. However, he stepped in, purchased the church and is paying for dramatic improvements to the building.

"It's the best possible outcome," said Rev. Cheryl Delaney. "(His intervention) is priceless. We feel so blessed that he came forward. It could have gone very differently without him."

Mandovi owns seven McDonald's franchises -- three of which are in Mentor. His headquarters are next door to the church.

"I’m not a member of the church, but they’ve been good neighbors, and I’ve helped with donations over the years," Mandovi said in an interview with The News-Herald.

Mandovi rents the building back to the church and uses part of it as a training and education center for his employees.

Furthermore, he has funded considerable repairs for the building since purchasing it.

The site of scaffolding around the building has become common place as workers perform a plethora of improvements.

They have fixed the steeple and added a new copper roof atop the cupola.

They've replaced the worn wooden moulding outside of the building, as well as scraped and repainted the exterior. They removed the dilapidated storm windows and replaced them with something just as effective but less distracting.

Mandovi is paying for a new front door and that's just the improvements you can see from the outside.

Mandovi has also funded the refurbishing of several inside rooms and will have the property freshly landscaped next year.

"He wants to leave this as a beautiful landmark for Mentor," Delaney said.

She added that the church hopes the makeover also attracts some new members.

"We're hoping the building being beautified reminds people that there is still a church here," Delaney said

The reverend concluded by thanking Mandovi.

"He gets it," she said. "Some of the members of the church were concerned when he first bought the building. He has proven by all of his actions that his heart is in the right place."

Anne October 29, 2012 at 02:20 PM
A very informative article. Tx. It is so refreshing to hear good news.
Chris October 29, 2012 at 07:56 PM
Kudos to Mr. Mandovi!
Louisa Krouse October 31, 2012 at 12:43 AM
What a wonderful story! My parents attended church services there and always received a warm and friendly welcome from the congregation. I'm so glad that Mr Mandovi reached out and made a difference. We can all learn from this story.
anonymous May 02, 2013 at 09:05 PM
Don't let this story fool you... Ali Mandovi is NOT a nice, generous man. Ask the many, many people who have worked for him. The motive behind the auction and donations and Church is just to make him look good to the community and corporate.

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