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NASHVILLE, Tennessee (WTVF) A new HBO Max documentary series once again puts the spotlight on controversial Christian food guru Gwen Shamblin Lara and her Brentwood church, the Remnant Fellowship.

This series, “The Way Down: God, Greed and the Cult of Gwen Shamblin”, was produced by award-winning filmmakers Marina Zenovich and Nile Cappello.

He explores how Shamblin’s Christian diet, the Weigh Down Workshop, evolved into his own religion.

“Despite a carefully curated image,” Shamblin and Remnant Fellowship, “quickly brought charges of emotional, psychological and physical abuse, and exploitation for their alleged cult practices,” read the promotional description for the film series.

SPOILER ALERT: Do not continue if you want to watch all three episodes first.

In May 2021, Shamblin’s plane crashed into Nashville’s Percy Priest Lake, killing her, her husband, former Tarzan actor Joe Lara, and five religious leaders.

It’s a story that’s quite familiar to longtime NewsChannel 5 viewers.

In 1997, presenter / reporter Amy Marsalis first presented Shamblin’s weighing workshop “where counting calories and grams of fat are not part of the daily ritual”.

Gwen and Amy interview

Two years later, in 1999, Shamblin established the Remnant Fellowship.

A year later, three former Weigh Down Workshop employees sued Shamblin, alleging they were fired for resisting his efforts to impose his religion on them.

This lawsuit, which was eventually settled, led Shamblin to testify under oath for hours in a videotaped deposition.

In July 2001, relying in part on Shamblin’s testimony, NewsChannel 5 survey questioned Shamblin’s claims about Weigh Down Workshop money: “Half goes to government, the other half goes to keep it going so someone else can be helped. “

Weighting interview

Then, in 2004, the story of Remnant Fellowship took a tragic turn.

Church members Joseph and Sonya Smith of Atlanta have been arrested for the death of their 8-year-old son Josef as a result of child abuse.

Following Josef’s death, NewsChannel 5 survey uncovered the church’s controversial practices for disciplining their children, including an internal recording in which Shamblin praised the Smiths for the way they treated Josef.

New clip on Gwen Shamblin’s Firm Beliefs

This “firm beliefs” survey also revealed other controversial practices, including the requirement that followers not take psychiatric drugs to treat mental illness.

Gwen Shamblin’s Mental Health Pack

In the follow-up to this 2004 report, NewsChannel 5 survey also revealed how followers of the Remnant Fellowship viewed Shamblin as a “prophet”.

The Remnant leader admitted in an interview with NewsChannel 5 that she would be willing to lie to protect her church.

Gwen Shamblin Prophet

Then, in May 2021, there was another tragic development.

A plane carrying Shamblin, Joe Lara and five Remnant leaders crashed into Percy Priest Lake shortly after take off from Smyrna Airport.

Joe Lara was piloting.

Air traffic control records, obtained by NewsChannel 5 survey, did not reveal any signs that Lara knew her plane was in trouble.

Sky 5 pilot explains ATC tape with crew, as divers find aircraft components, human remains on Sunday

As part of the accident coverage, NewsChannel 5 survey reviewed the years of controversy that surrounded Shamblin and Remnant Fellowship.

Controversy surrounded the Church of Brentwood, founding for years; Gwen Shamblin Lara among those presumed dead

The filmmakers say they are continuing to work on additional episodes, focusing in part on the plane crash, which happened as they wrapped up production on the first phase of the project.

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