A homophobic slur appeared in a vandalised car parked outside a church in St Paul, Minnesota, where a service was taking place for an openly gay Lutheran pastor.

A golf ball on which the homophobic message was scrawled was smashed through the window of a car belonging to a man attending the ceremony for the Reverend Anita C. Hill at Gustavus Adolphus Lutheran Church.

According to the Reverend Bonnie Wilcox, senior pastor of the Arcade Street church: “We went from this wonderful celebration, where we were faithful in our beliefs and faithful in our witness, and then we got this disappointing, disturbing, shocking news that someone was randomly targeted.”

According to a press statement, on the golf ball was an anti-gay message handwritten in red ink. There was also an obscene picture.

Emily Eastwood, the executive director of ReconcilingWorks, an organisation that works for the full participation of LGBT people in church and society said: “My first thought was, I guess we’re moving to the right location because obviously there’s work to be done here, there’s ministry to be done about full inclusion”.

The man whose SUV was damaged told Ms Eastwood he supposed he was “just collateral damage”.

She added: “Anti-gay rhetoric that includes this kind of action is one of the worst kinds of bullying. You don’t know who did it, there’s no courage involved. There’s no way to look for reconciliation. It’s like a hit-and-run kind of thing.”

A police officer took a report, saying an investigation would follow.