Remnant Fellowship is a religious organization with roots going back to 1986 in Memphis, Tennessee, and a weight loss program founded by Gwen Shamblin, a dietician. The program, called Weigh Down Workshop, used biblical principles to help overweight people regain control of their diets and their bodies. The program was so successful that it is credited with helping people overcome all kinds of addictive behaviors. Many evangelical churches across the country used Weigh Down Workshops in the 1990s. By 1999, Shamblin and others began a church, Remnant Fellowship Church, in Nashville, Tennessee. Soon after that, Shamblin publicly denied the biblical doctrine of the Trinity.
The name Remnant Fellowship reflects their conviction that most modern churches are “counterfeit churches” filled with idols. They see themselves as the fulfillment of Ezra 8:8–9, which speaks of God leaving a remnant who will serve Him. The Remnant Fellowship strongly proselytizes attendees of their Weigh Down Workshops, urging them to leave their false churches and join the only “remnant” that is pleasing to God. Their focus is upon strict and complete obedience to God in every area; however, that obedience is often defined as conformity to Gwen Shamblin’s opinion of what God wants. To criticize or disagree with Shamblin’s teaching in any area is to be out of the will of God.
The website of the Remnant Fellowship refers often to the Truth (with a capital letter T) that closely mirrors Jesus’ truth—with a twist. She agreed that Jesus is the only way to God (John 1:6), yet she denied that Jesus is God and she stressed such strict obedience to the Law that her doctrine constituted salvation by works (see Ephesians 2:8–9). In many areas, the church’s insistence upon a healthy diet and their disdain for medications crosses over into manmade legalism (Matthew 15:9). Gwen Shamblin essentially set herself up as a prophet of God, and her opinions are considered direct revelations of Truth.
The Remnant Fellowship has been identified as a cult by some cult experts, and there is an abundance of testimonials online from former members of the Remnant Fellowship recounting stories of mind control, disavowing family members, shaming, authoritarian leadership, and other problems. Employees of the Weigh Down Workshops are required to attend Remnant Fellowship Church or be fired. Some former employees sued Weigh Down in 2000 and 2001 in federal court over the loss of their jobs.
Gwen Shamblin, her husband, and five other Remnant Fellowship leaders were killed in an airplane crash in May 2021. The ministries of Remnant Fellowship and Weigh Down continue under the leadership of Shamblin’s children, Michael Shamblin and Elizabeth Shamblin Hannah. Unless the new leadership chooses to return to orthodox doctrine and renounce all cult-like practices, Remnant Fellowship and Weigh Down will continue to be organizations to avoid.