Inside 'cult leader' Gwen Shamblin Lara's luxury lifestyle from $20m properties to private planes before jet crash
CHRISTIAN diet guru Gwen Shamblin Lara, leader of the Remnant Fellowship Church, lived a luxury lifestyle before she died in a shocking 2021 private plane crash.
Details of the Tennessee-based church leader's life are being revealed in an explosive new HBO docuseries, called The Way Down: God, Greed, and the Cult of Gwen Shamblin.
Upon her death in May 2021, an investigation into Shamblin Lara's will involved an estate possibly worth millions.
"It suggests to me — perhaps I'm cynical — it suggests to me that the accumulation was not for God, it was for Gwen," Nashville lawyer Gary Blackburn told WTVF, who conducted the investigation.
In 1998 Shamblin Lara told CNN host Larry King: “This money, half of it goes to the government, the other half goes to keep it going so that someone else can be helped."
This would mean that nothing was left to Shamblin Lara's family, which she insisted was the truth.
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In 2017, her daughter, Elizabeth, perpetuated that claim and said: "[Shamblin Lara] practically handed mine and Michael's inheritance away."
However, Shamblin Lara's will revealed that everything was left to her two children, according to WTVF.
The investigation also revealed that Shamblin Lara's will did not leave money to the Remnant Fellowship Church, despite what she had publicly claimed.
But the church released a statement to the Nashville channel, saying Shamblin Lara donated "Weigh Down Ministries and its proceeds, as well as all her intellectual properties over to the church."
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"In regards to Gwen’s estate, Gwen, Michael, and Elizabeth decided almost two decades ago to give approximately $10 million of what would have been Michael and Elizabeth’s inheritance to the building and grounds of Remnant Fellowship Church.
"This was an incredible gift of generosity from Gwen and her family’s inheritance, and the church would expect no more."
It was also revealed that Shamblin Lara's 2018 divorce from her husband, David Shamblin, showed the couple had 18 properties worth more than $20million.
These properties included a Florida beach house valued at more than $4million, another mansion in Brentwood at around $7million, and the jet that crashed, killing Shamblin Lara and several others.
Mom-of-two Shamblin Lara was a Christian diet guru who founded the Remnant Fellowship Church in 1999.
Born in Memphis in February 1955, Shamblin Lara was the author of the 1997 book, The Weigh Down Diet, "a groundbreaking approach to weight loss," according to the book's description.
"People who have known no end to their hunger and who have no control over their late-night binges have learned through the Weigh Down Workshop that they can remove the irresistible desire for food," according to the Amazon summary.
"This is not a diet like others, because it is not food-focused."
Shamblin Lara was one of seven people killed in a plane crash in May of 2021.
A Cessna C501 crashed into Percy Priest Lake near Smyrna, Tennessee, after taking off from a nearby airport at about 11 am on May 29.
The Remnant Fellowship Church is located in Brentwood, Tennessee.
The church features "an international community of people who are finding renewed hope, profound love and deep purpose by putting the undiluted teachings of Jesus Christ into practice," according to the organization's website.
"While divorce, depression, obesity and out-of-control children are increasingly the norm these days, at the Remnant we are experiencing healed marriages, increasing joy, restored health, repaired finances, and children who love to follow the guidance of their parents."
More than three decades ago Shamblin Lara had launched the Weigh Down Workshop.
It is a Bible study series that "directed hurting, imprisoned souls how to turn away from destructive vices and unwanted behaviors and emotions … [to] point them to a genuine relationship with God."
These vices included "overeating, alcohol indulgence, anger, and depression."
Her book and the creation of the Remnant Fellowship Church would later follow.
'SHE BROKE MY FAMILY'
Part two of the HBO docuseries “The Way Down: God, Greed, and the Cult of Gwen Shamblin,” explores what happened to Shamblin Lara's church after her shocking death in May 2021.
Her daughter, Elizabeth, is now leading the Remnant Fellowship Church.
In the trailer for the new part of the series, one churchgoer says: “Gwen broke my family,” one woman says in the trailer.
“The only thing I can do is pick up the pieces.”
The first part of the docuseries aired in September 2021, taking a look at Shamblin Lara's ascent to fame through her diet program and the founding of her church.
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Shamblin died when a small plane reportedly bound for Palm Beach International Airport in Florida crashed last year.
The plane was registered to JL&GL Productions LP, which she owned with her second husband, Joe Lara, according to WTVF.
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