About 150 members and friends of Grace United Methodist Church turned out Sunday to "claim the land" at the site of their future church home.

The property, 20 acres of land located at the intersection of Northwest Boulevard and River Hills Drive, was purchased anonymously by a family in the congregation for $650,000 and given to the church, the largest gift in the church's history.

In the fall of 2007, the church voted overwhelmingly to accept this gift and to proceed to relocate the church from its present site at 11222 Leopard Street in the Calallen-Annaville area.

Sixty years ago, members of the Robstown Methodist Church started the Grace congregation and were instrumental in helping to build its first place of worship on Leopard Street.

Currently, the church is engaged in a capital funds campaign, called "Expanding the Circle of Grace," designed to raise funds for construction of the first phase of facilities on the new site.

The church's vision is to expand its outreach to the growing population along Farm-to-Market Road 624 all the way out to Orange Grove.

Church officials said the congregation is passionate about living up to its name and being a "place of grace" that connects more and more people with their religion.

In its new location, the church plans to increase its ministries to children and youth in the area, its after-school mentoring program, and its health care and counseling services to the community, as well as its thrift store, which provides low-cost goods.

The new church property has been unofficially dubbed "GraceLand."