"The church is not the building, and that's the message, the church is what you do and how you love and how you serve."
OAKLAND, Calif. (KGO) -- Fire investigators are still working to figure out what caused Oakland's oldest black church to catch fire Sunday night, although Pastor Rodney Smith says he does not believe it was malicious.
It happened at the First African Methodist Episcopal Church, known as FAME Oakland.
Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays are the three days a week that this church transforms into a feeding ministry, all to support folks who have no other place to go.
But since Sunday night's fire, church leaders are now scrambling to figure out how to keep that resource going, even without this building.
A roof over his head or not, it's back to work for Pastor Smith.
"The church is not the building, and that's the message, the church is what you do and how you love and how you serve," Smith said.
Despite his church burning down Sunday night, and now red-tagged, he says he has a community depending on him.
"We know them by name, we don't look at anybody and disrespect them because they don't have a place to sleep," he said.
Tuesday marks the first day without a feeding ministry at FAME in years.
"Today, I'm here to greet, whoever comes and whoever shows up, I don't know if they've heard or haven't heard, but I want them to know that we're still here, even if I have to go in my pocket and get them lunch, I'm here because this is what we do," he said.
Despite several potential venues already reaching out to be used as alternate locations, Pastor Smith says he wants to keep it at the site of the church.
"I want to still feed this community and going to another location, some of the people who come here don't have transportation," he said.
Now, he says, logistically, he's working to find a way to still bring the food to at least the parking lot or sidewalk of the church and he's asking the community for help.
"They are counting on us, they are depending on us," he said. "If you have resources, if you have a dollar, if you know somebody who knows somebody get in touch with us."
If you'd like to help, click here for a verified link to a GoFundMe page for FAME Oakland.
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