Chris Slaughter of Bridge City said he can’t put into words what Pastor J.W. Harrell of Bridge City United Pentecostal Church on Roundbunch Road, his wife and two children, have meant the world to him and his family.

“He has been much more than a man standing behind a pulpit on Sundays. He gives full definition to a word like ‘Pastor’ and a comment like ‘friend of the community,’” Slaughter wrote in a nomination letter to the Bridge City Chamber of Commerce Citizen of the Year for 2010.

Two years later that nomination has become a reality as Harrell was named Citizen of the Year for 2012.

“A man of great stature, he is for me as well as all of us in the community, a wonderful example to pattern ourselves after. How often do you come across folks that you just don[t have anything bad to say about, but many tangible accomplishments to point to? That is Pastor J.W. Harrell,” Slaughter stated.

In another nomination letter by Harry Joe Wolf, he writes Harrell has been a distinguished member of the community for 40 years. He has been pastor of the church since the March of 1971.

“There were 29 voting members in 1971. Since that time, the little congregation has grown to over 300 members,” Wolf wrote. “During the past 40 years, Rev. Harrell has initiated various building programs including educational facilities, a Family Life Center and the 600-seat auditorium where services are now held.”

Wolf wrote Hurricane Rita destroyed the auditorium and educational facilities. Services were held in the Family Life Center that was spared until the church was rebuilt.

During Hurricane Ike, many church members lost their homes including Rev. Harrrell, but the church was spared. Water came up to the doors of the church but none got inside.

“Through it all, Rev. Harrell was faithful to his congregation and his community, never wavering, never surrendering,” he wrote.

Rev. Harrell received an honorary degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Religion and Theology from Southern Christian University of December of 2010.

March 2011 marked his and Mrs. Harrell’s 40th anniversary with the church. The church celebrated with a homecoming and anniversary service on March 20, 2011.

“I know I speak for our entire congregation when I say that we are honored to be pastored by a man like Rev. Harrell. He has unreservedly served his congregation, as well as this community, faithfully for 40 years. He is highly esteemed and respected by many, not only in his congregation but throughout the community, as well. I cannot think of anyone more deserving of being named Bridge City’s 2012 Citizen of the Year,” Wolf wrote.