A celebratory service for a new gay pastor in Minnesota was marred by a homophobic golf ball attack.
Around 150 people were attending the service on Saturday (11 August) for lesbian Reverand Anita Hill at the Gustavus Adolphus Lutheran Church on the St Paul-Maplewood border when a golf ball was pelted through the rear window of a car in the church’s parking lot.
The possibility of an off-course shot from the nearby Phalen Park Golf Course was ruled out after the ball was discovered to have a gay slur written across it.
Speaking to the Star Tribune St Paul, the Rev Bonnie Wilcox said: 'At first, we wondered if somebody had just hit a ball across the street, but with the angle it hit the window, it's unlikely it had anything to do with the golf course.
'Last Sunday we as a nation were shocked and saddened by the attack on the Sikh temple in Milwaukee.
'We also have been a victim of vandalism and a hate crime.
'People are saddened that this would happen to guests in our building, no-one deserves to be treated that way.
'I encourage and ask you to stand with and offer your prayers for those who are the victims of such acts of violence and hatred, as well as prayers for those who commit such awful acts.'
The service was being held after the appointment of the Rev Hill, who was commissioned to lead Reconciling Works, an advocacy group working on behalf of people of all races and sexual orientation within the church.
Writing on her Facebook page, Rev Hill said: 'I am saddened by the property damage and problems that occurred in the parking lot.
'I want the person(s) who did this to know that God loves them and I love them, and there is nothing they can do about that.'
St Paul police are still investigating the incident and will decide whether to classify it as a hate crime.