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What is the Remnant Fellowship?

Tricia Christensen
Updated Feb 28, 2024
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The Remnant Fellowship is a Christian church begun by Gwen Shamblin, a dietitian, in the 1990s. She has been called prophetic by many Fellowship members. Initially, Shamblin gained popularity with her book, The Weigh Down Diet published in 1997. The book took a spiritual approach toward dieting, suggesting that eating less was in keeping with the self sacrifice of Christ and would allow people to lose weight with much greater success through prayer, and moderation in diet.

Many Christian churches advocated the use of Shamblin’s first book, and she was invited to speaking engagements throughout the country. These soon became her opportunity to proselytize and to form her own church, in 1999, the Remnant Fellowship Church. Since founding the Remnant Fellowship in Tennessee, the church has established over 100 chapters.

The Remnant Fellowship has some controversy surrounding it. It has been accused of being a cult. These accusations have been based on Shamblin’s interpretation of the gospel and how she and other church leaders' allegedly behave toward congregants. The main doctrinal disputes come from those of Christian faiths who believe in the Holy Trinity. They argue that the Remnant Fellowship is an incorrect interpretation of the Trinity, and is specifically non-Trinitarian.

Another complaint in terms of doctrine is the contention by Shamblin and the Remnant Fellowship that people are steeped in sin unless they follow her teachings. She has accused some Christians of being corrupt. Some opponents have pointed out that her speaking engagements at churches prior to her forming her own ministry are not in keeping with Christian beliefs of fair dealing and openness, since she solicited members from other congregations to join her.

Accusations about the behavior of Church leaders center around such things as the excommunication of members for questioning Shamblin's beliefs. Shamblin has said, however, that members choose to leave and that she does not force members to do what she wants. There is also controversy surrounding the Church's support of two members who were accused of murdering their son in 2003. The murder is said to be associated with how the parents, who say they are innocent, disciplined their son.

Shamblin continues to make guest appearances on network news shows and on talk shows. Tyra Banks invited Shamblin to speak on her show in 2007. She has also given interviews on The Today Show and The Early Show. The congregation of the Remnant Fellowship continues to grow in spite of allegations levied against it.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Tricia Christensen
By Tricia Christensen , Writer
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a WiseGeek contributor, Tricia Christensen is based in Northern California and brings a wealth of knowledge and passion to her writing. Her wide-ranging interests include reading, writing, medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion, all of which she incorporates into her informative articles. Tricia is currently working on her first novel.

Discussion Comments

By anon958176 — On Jun 25, 2014

The things that are being said are true. My good friend Laurie lost 120 pounds and continued to not eat because if she wasn't losing more weight she must be "sinning". She is now trying to repair her health and her body. She became an emotional mess and her hair started falling out because she was told to push on to lose more weight. Seriously look at Gwen and the others the look unhealthy, fake and plastic! Gwen might have started with a good idea but has taken it too far.

By anon954571 — On Jun 02, 2014

I too have a close friend who recently became involved with RF and something did not seem right. I have witnessed first hand all of the above changes in him that I read online. He is distant from family, was encouraged to relocate to Tennessee, has an obsessive mindset about this church and Gwen. He was never an overweight person, but he denies his body food. He believes he is being obedient to Hod. I am not judging anyone, but watching in horror as my friend is dwindling away. But this is obedience? Pray for him and others who are blinded by this teaching.

By anon952905 — On May 23, 2014

The Trinity thing bothers me, but to be honest, I am Baptist and the state of the church bothers me too. I have accepted Jesus as Savior and Lord, but also believe that we have no way to please God apart from Jesus' sacrifice on the cross.

I do think that too many people (me included) ride on a prayer and think we have the golden ticket. I think that's wrong too. I will continue to pray and seek God's face. But as far as teaching hunger and fullness, she is correct. Even the world is now talking about intermittent fasting is good for you. I am an RN and fat. I believe in turning to God for everything, and because of Jesus' sacrifice, I can!

By anon950580 — On May 11, 2014

Wow! I can't believe most of what I'm reading here. A vast majority is nothing but lies and "I know somebody" gossip. How do I know? Because I'm a current member of RF. I am also a wife and mother of two and the only one in my family who is a member.

The only time there is peace in my marriage or with my children is when I put what I am taught through RF into practice. And even though my husband isn't a member, he loves that I am because of the peace it brings to the marriage. I have never been encouraged to leave my marriage. And even though my husband isn't very loving or attentive, RF teaches me to love the un-loving and stay in the marriage. In fact, had I not found RF I would be divorced by now. So, RF is the only thing that has kept my family together.

For those of you who claim it’s a cult solely because we do not believe in the trinity, there are many religions including Christian that don't believe in the trinity. I was raised in the Church of Christ and I was never taught the trinity and we weren't categorized as a cult. When I got older I went to a Baptist church for a while and I tried really hard to believe in it. But I found it the most confusing thing I had ever heard of and nothing but an excuse to not do what is right.

I could go on and on but I'll just say that reading posts like this convince me even more that I have found the truth because only truth will be so viciously attacked. And that is what a majority of you all here are doing with your lies and hearsay.

By Msil80 — On Jan 23, 2014

In Matt. 1:23 "and He will be called Immanuel which means God is with us." Yes, God in the flesh. Yes God pitched His tent among men in the body of Christ! So if you believe the lies of the RF and Gwen Shamblin, you are hopelessly lost for eternity. I didn't make the rules, God did.

Also, in John 1:1- "In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and The Word WAS God!" Jesus is the Word made flesh. He is the embodiment of the living God and in Him is all life and apart from him, there is no life!

To take Jesus out and not acknowledge Him as King, Sovereign Lord and God almighty is like eating a pan of brownies with a pinch of arsenic!

Also Romans 9:16: "So therefore it does not depend on man's desire or effort, but on God's mercy." We love because He first loved us, but no amount of good works can save our mortal souls -- only the belief in a power greater than ourselves, Jesus Christ!

By anon926147 — On Jan 16, 2014

After attending some Weighdown classes for myself and getting to know the RF members personally, it is the healing and uniting of families that actually takes place. Check out the services online and see for yourself how thankfulness to God is the prevailing attitude. God's will is put before all else and the fruits of His Spirit are evident.

By anon342939 — On Jul 25, 2013

My wife is in RF. She joined Weigh Down Workshop to help her burn off baby fat after our daughter was born. After losing weight, Gwen convinced her that because she saw results in WDW, she should follow into the Remnant Fellowship group.

It was living hell for my family. Suddenly, my wife had to make three trips to Tennessee every year and had to take our daughter. Whatever RF says, my wife does. I finally wrestled my daughter out of my wife's travels and I've let go of the struggle in my marriage because at least I saved my daughter. There is no way in the world that my wife will ever place anything above RF. Oh, and get this: Because I am not an RF believer, my wife is in a special group of women who are "abused". I couldn't believe all this, especially after I busted my tail to provide for my family. To have Gwen and her goons tear up my family is unforgivable. Stay away from this group. Husbands be aware!

By anon321535 — On Feb 23, 2013

This is truly a cult because they want you to starve, and are not happy unless you are anorexic and act like the "happy people" from bubble boy.

They worship Gwen ans friends, thinness and image. They taught me that others like Billy Graham are not members of a true church. What a joke! Yes, they are the only true believers in the whole wide world. Yes, it's hard to discern, because they are all super sweet -- another love bomb tactic of a cult.

Watch out if you don't center your life around their one and only true church in the whole wide world. Then you are the bad guy. Pray for wisdom as in James 1:5, and the true God will help you run! I'm so glad I did.

By anon304001 — On Nov 17, 2012

You can do weighdown and not be a member of that church.

Weigh down is to help people lose weight, not join their church in another state. I am a Baptist and I believe in God and I believe what Weigh down can do, not what Gwen can do. I believe in the process of how to lose the weight, not in a ministry that introduced it.

By anon300841 — On Nov 01, 2012

Nowhere in the Bible is a belief in the Trinity (which was decided to be church doctrine 300-plus years after Christ died) considered a requirement for salvation. Jesus is the only begotten son of God, he lived a perfect life to death on the cross, rose three days later and sits at the right hand side of God, yes. Belief in the Catholic Church doctrine of the Trinity? No.

By anon258445 — On Apr 01, 2012

RF is a cult through and through. In fact, it should be used as a textbook example for anyone studying cults of how a cult operates.

I've personally seen the 'fruit' of this church. It's evil with a pretty face. If an entire family is not all on board, it's the destruction of that family. Lose weight and the meaning of the Gospel? Not a good combination. Satan doesn't care if you get skinny if he can keep Christ's message of salvation and justification through Him alone by what He already did out of your heart.

Stay away from this cult! I warn you with all I have: Stay away!

By anon256058 — On Mar 20, 2012

I have experienced this church through relatives and I am thankful I do not live in the area. This church has completely dominated our relatives' lives in a negative way.

Members are always to choose church events over everything else and are never allowed to attend events in any other house of worship. Gwen rambles on and on about nonsense in her sermons.

If you have ever been to her home, you will see where the money and energy from the members goes. The members are lovely, intelligent, beautiful, and talented people. But believing the teachings of this woman is their greatest downfall.

By anon191828 — On Jun 29, 2011

I also attended this church and found that my life changed so much for the better. I laid down sin and became so close to God. But there was always this unrest in my spirit and I could never figure out what exactly it was. But I also asked leadership if they thought they were the only "true Christians" and they said no, but their actions would show otherwise.

One leader told me that satan was working through a member of my family because he warned me about the church. just remember: something can be 99 percent true and 1 percent false, and it's all false. So many good things are happening there. But there is just a small amount of untruth that makes the whole batch rotten.

And it's too bad because I don't think that Gwen's original intention was this. But something has changed since 1999, and it is very sad.

By anon176164 — On May 15, 2011

One of my best friends and her family go to RF and I have never seen such a love or God and their family and nobody here can interpret the bible. it says what it says and some of it is easy to understand and some isn't. only god knows, but I know one thing: no one on this page should be calling themselves a christian if they are judging others.

By anon133052 — On Dec 09, 2010

All I can say is this church has turned our family upside down. They convinced a member of our family that if her husband didn't allow their children to attend RF then she should divorce him for God in order to raise them to believe the "right" doctrine and they were there the whole time to walk her through the process,what about Matthew 5:31-32?

She has turned her kids against their dad, they turn stressed if you ask them to eat when their stomach isn't growling because they think you are sinning if you do. Where exactly does it state that in the Bible? They honestly believe that they can not partake in the Lord's Supper if they are not at RF because if they do they will be judged for the sins of that particular church they are in.

They believe that all other churches are counterfeits and are not going to heaven. You just have to read one book in the New Testament to realize RF is wrong. It seems that the church drills their members with an "it's us against them" mentality.

We are supposed to judge others based on their fruit and all I've seen from this RF member, first hand, is complete destruction.

By anon106630 — On Aug 26, 2010

I've been a lay member for several years and most of what is posted above is simply wrong, which is a shame because all you have to do is attend a few services, read a few books, and figure out what's really being said!

This church is not about Gwen's teachings, but rather about what the Bible says. Most members (such as myself) already knew in their hearts that something is wrong with the state of the current church, and Gwen's words ring true because they line up with Scripture.

I am at home at Remnant because I no longer have an uncomfortable disconnect between what I believe and what I read in the Bible.

Breaking families apart? I wish I had a penny for every time a church leader has encouraged me to honor my parents and siblings, to show them patience, to shine light without judging, to turn the other cheek, and to seek their comfort above my own.

As for Matt 1:23, God can be with us in Christ without Jesus being God. The same is true for most scriptures that are used to support the trinity. The fact is, in a best case scenario we don't really know what the trinity is or how it helps us be better Christians. Until someone figures that out, why not leave it out?

Omitting the trinity as a ingredient of my faith does not leave my faith impoverished, but rather directs my attention to the more important things, such as Jesus' unwavering subservience to God in all things, and how I respond not only to Jesus' dying sacrifice (distinct from or identical to God, it doesn't matter) but also to his living example. The trinity, if it exists, won't be saving anyone, after all.

I urge anyone curious about Remnant Fellowship to do what I did and attend (if you can), or get some information. There is an 800 number and no shortage of information on any of its websites. I'd hate for someone to read these postings and have remarks such as these be their first and probably last impression of this church. It is the only church whose message has ever inspired me to seek God with all my heart, and to respond to His love in the manner He deserves! It is truly and genuinely a place of healing.

By anon104444 — On Aug 16, 2010

the remnant fellowship saved my life and gave me a relationship with god it is the best place for me and my family

By anon76507 — On Apr 10, 2010

I have a friend whose wife got sucked into the Remnant Fellowship. He was the one who told me about an online list of negative articles on this cult. I read them and was amazed at how a so-called Christian could get sucked into this so easily.

Keep this in mind: any cult such as Jehovah's Witness and the RF have one very important fingerprint in common. They denounce the Trinity. They do not believe that God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit are one. Why is this important? It makes Jesus a counterfeit.

In Matt. 1:23 "and He will be called Immanuel which means God is with us." Yes, God in the flesh. Yes God pitched His tent among men in the body of Christ! So if you believe the lies of the RF and Gwen Shamblin, you are hopelessly lost for eternity. I didn't make the rules, God did.

Praise God for His saving grace through Jesus Christ!

By anon74738 — On Apr 03, 2010

Yep, this place is an evil mess. Beware. I know a member of it. Bad stuff! Very sad.

By anon63668 — On Feb 02, 2010

Well the congregation thinks they are the only ones going to heaven and the leaders have the poor lost souls believing that their family and friends are heathens if they don't believe in the same thing.

How many families have been broken because of this craziness? I believe a lot. It is excruciating to watch your family turn their backs on the ones that have loved and supported them for years to someone they just met.

Lost souls who have had some kind of need for saving because they feel guilty for something they have done. Way to go, lose weight and your family and friends and only be friends and family with the church or else you are going to hell. My God does not teach me that, but only "love thy neighbor."

By anon30936 — On Apr 27, 2009

I straight up asked leadership if they thought they were the only one's going to heaven and they said said of course not..and actually, they aren't really thinking about other churches, they are just concerned about their own lives.

Tricia Christensen

Tricia Christensen


With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a WiseGeek contributor, Tricia...
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