An effort by a Ladner church to show its support for the rights of gay and transgender people has caught the attention of local vandals in what some members of the community are calling an act of hate.

The Pride flag that hangs outside the Ladner United Church was found partly covered Monday in what appeared to be black spray paint.

"I'm disappointed. I have some anger," said Minister Jim Short, calling the act "a violation."

"One of my first thoughts was 'Gee, if you were a member of the LGBT community and you saw that, you would immediately think somebody doesn't like me personally,'" Short added.

That feeling has been echoed by many in the community.

"It's disappointing that someone would walk around and do such a horrible thing like that," one resident told CTV News.

The founder of LBGTQ advocacy group Sher Vancouver said he's always felt accepted for who he is, and that the incident is upsetting.

"In a way, it's kind of like a hate crime," Alex Sangha said. "It just goes to show that we still need to do much more education and awareness in the community about LGBTQ issues."

Police have been canvassing the neighbourhood and confirmed an investigation is underway.

Church officials have posted to Facebook alerting the congregation and promising to replace the flag.

"As a faith community which is committed to living out the love of Christ in real and practical ways in our community, we will not be discouraged or distracted from the message of inclusion, acceptance and affirmation we make through flying this flag in solidarity with our LGBTQ+ church members, friends, family, and larger community of South Delta," the post read.

Short said a member of the community who isn't affiliated with the church has offered to pay for the replacement.

With files from CTV News Vancouver's Allison Hurst in Ladner