Westboro Baptist Church, which mounts aggressive protests in its campaigns against homosexuality, targeted the Gay Christian Network conference in Portland, Oregon yesterday.
Among the participants was author and worship leader Vicky Beeching, who said on Facebook: "I made sure I said hello to them, told them God loved them & so did I, and that the Gay Christian Network conference had nothing but love and grace to extend to them."
Elswhere she wrote, "Was a pretty unpleasant environment to walk through, right before I spoke, but thankfully these loud angry people are not representative of most Christians."
Other Christians from Portland formed a protective screen for the participants, numbering around 1,300 lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Christians.
OregonLive quoted Tony Kriz, an evangelical author, as saying: "I'm not comfortable with hate of any kind in my city. It has nothing to do with what you believe morally. Everybody needs to know they are loved."
In her address to the conference Beeching said that "Christianity is less of a fixed, concrete faith and more about a relationship with a God who is alive and living" and "Our theology has become so systematised, so categorised, it can feel less like a living thing and more like ... taxidermy."
She also said, "I love Jesus as much as I ever have. And I'm gay. Deal with it."