|Born||February 1955 (age 59)
Memphis, Tennessee, U.S.
|Occupation||Author and Registered Dietician|
Gwen Shamblin is an American Christian non-fiction author and founder of The Weigh Down Workshop and Remnant Fellowship Church. The most distinctive aspect of her writing is its combination of weight loss programs with Christianity. She is married and has two children.
- 1 Early years
- 2 Ministry
- 3 Criticism
- 4 Works
- 5 References
- 6 External links
Shamblin is a registered dietitian, consultant, and was an instructor of food and nutrition at the University of Memphis for five years. She also worked in the state health department for an additional five years. Before she started writing, she earned an undergraduate degree in dietetics from University of Tennessee, in Knoxville and then her master's degree in food and nutrition from the University of Memphis.
Shamblin and her husband David have been married for over 25 years and have two grown children and six grandchildren. Shamblin resides in an historic mansion known as Ashlawn built in the early 1800s in Brentwood, Tennessee.
Weigh Down Workshop
Shamblin began her consulting practice in the area of weight control in 1980. She later became "convinced that genetics, metabolism and behavior modification alone couldn't explain why some people were thin and others battled the bulge”. In 1986, she founded the Weigh Down Workshop. Initially offered through audiotapes and small classes in a retail setting, the workshop was offered in 1,800 churches in the United States by May 1995. By August 1998, Weigh Down was holding more than 21,000 classes with over 250,000 participants worldwide. Weigh Down eventually held classes in all fifty states and every continent with over 1 million participants becoming “one of the most popular weight-loss programs in the world” by mid-2000.
Since 1996, Gwen Shamblin and Weigh Down have hosted a regular summer convention in the Nashville, Tennessee area known as Desert Oasis. In addition to Desert Oasis, Shamblin has been travelling to other cities since 1999 via the Rebuilding the Wall tour. Also known early on as Date in the Desert and the Exodus Tour, Rebuilding the Wall tours have been conducted by Shamblin in 26 cities in the United States and Canada.
The popularity of Shamblin's teaching resulted in appearances on CNN's Larry King Live, BBC, 20/20, The View, as well as in such magazines as Good Housekeeping and Woman’s Day. Participants were not only losing weight while eating regular foods, but they were using the same Bible-based principles to turn away from other addictions such as smoking and alcohol abuse.
Shamblin has developed seven different seminars over the past two decades through Weigh Down. These seminars teach people "how to transfer a relationship with food over to a loving relationship toward God."
In 2011, Shamblin began producing a live Internet show, entitled “You Can Overcome”. Shamblin had previously hosted and directed two other Internet series entitled “Lunch with Gwen”, which streamed live online from 2003-2004, and “Weigh Down Live”, an hour-long series that streamed intermittently from 2003-2010.
The Weigh Down diet
Shamblin is the author of The Weigh Down Diet (ISBN 0-385-49324-X). First published in 1997, this diet advises using spirituality to avoid overeating and has sold more than 1.2 million copies. Since that time she has written a number of books including Rise Above (ISBN 0-7852-6876-6), a devotional book entitled Exodus (ISBN 1-892729-00-8), The Legend to The Treasure (ISBN 1-892729-80-6) and most recently in 2012, History of the One True God: Volume 1: The Origin of Good and Evil (ISBN 978-1-892-72914-9).
Shamblin teaches that there are two very different needs in each person: a need for food and an emotional need. According to Shamblin, people should only eat when they feel real, physical hunger and stop when full; prayer and Bible reading will fill emotional needs instead of food. Overeating is equated with greed. A core principle of the Weigh Down Diet, when people feel an urge to snack but are not experiencing true physiological "hunger", Shamblin encourages participants to read the Bible instead.
Television, magazine and news media appearances
Shamblin has been featured on The Today Show, CNN's "Larry King Live" DaySide, and The Early Show. Participants from the Weigh Down Workshop have been featured on the cover of Good Housekeeping, in the Ladies' Home Journal, in People Magazine, First magazine, Quick and Simple, and in numerous newspaper articles.In 2007, The Tyra Banks Show devoted an hour long program to Shamblin, the Weigh Down Workshop, the Fellowship and participants from Weigh Down programs.
Remnant Fellowship Church
Shamblin is a leader in and a founder of the Remnant Fellowship Church, which differs from a number of Protestant denominations in areas such as the denial of the doctrine of the Trinity and its observance of the Biblical Sabbath. The church takes its name from the Book of Ezra 9:8-9, which mentions a "faithful remnant" of followers. According to the church's website, it currently has over 100 locations worldwide. The church was started in 1999 in Brentwood, Tennessee.
In a 2001 interview with The New Yorker, Shamblin stated that she felt called by God to start Remnant Fellowship after noticing that some users of the Weigh Down program were beginning to gain back their weight. This led her to theorize that the mainstream Protestant doctrine of "Eternal Security" leads some people to believe they have a license to sin.
Other dietitians have questioned the soundness of Shamblin's diet advice, which focuses on faith instead of healthy eating habits or exercise. In the book Born Again Bodies: Flesh and Spirit in American Christianity (ISBN 0520242408), author Marie Griffith, a Princeton associate professor of religion, examines the trend of religion-based dieting. Although critical of Shamblin for using the Christianity label while building her business, Griffith credits Shamblin for the new wave of interest in creating "a more holy body", and substantial sections of the work examine Shamblin's movement. Griffith notes, "In Shamblin's world, people who don't lose weight often feel like failures. If they don't lose weight, it's a failure of discipline; it's a failure of obedience." At the same time, Griffith's work places Shamblin's movement squarely within a historical tradition of perfecting one's body in order to be more Christ-like, or fasting and dieting in order to feel closer to God.
Shamblin's weight loss programs were initially very well received within Christian churches. Tens of thousands of churches in many different denominations used her materials to teach her faith-based weight loss program in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Controversy arose when she began to teach that the doctrine of the Trinity was not Biblical. Shamblin made it clear that she believes Jesus Christ is not God but rather God's son . This led Thomas Nelson Publishers to cancel the publication of Exodus, her next work. In a letter to her followers sent to clarify her position on the Trinity, Shamblin wrote: "The reason all of this is important is that if you do not understand that God is the clear authority and that Jesus was under God's authority, then you will not have a clear picture of what it means to be Christ like. Jesus suffered, obeyed, submitted, denied his will, and made it his food to do the will of the Father." Later Shamblin writes, "I believe that Jesus and God are two separate beings." She also says that she does not believe that Jesus and God are equal in power and glory.
News channel 5 report
In 2001, NewsChannel 5, a local Nashville news station, aired a story entitled, "Is it a ministry or just big business?"  looking into how Weigh Down Workshop’s money was spent. The interview ended with Shamblin stating that "this money -- half of it goes to the government, the other half goes to keep it going so someone else can be helped."..."She says she would sell her belongings to keep the ministry going." The article states that Weigh Down meets in 30,000 groups across the country, and one participant interviewed claims to have lost 196 pounds through the program. The Weigh Down Workshop has since been donated by the Shamblins and has become a non-profit, tax-deductible ministry within Remnant Fellowship, which is a registered 501c3 with the IRS.
In 2000, Shamblin began to advocate specific ideas about Christian theology and began to form her own church. During this time, four former employees of the Weigh Down Workshop sued Shamblin on the grounds of religious discrimination. These employee lawsuits were settled out of court, and as part of the settlement the exact amount of proceeds generated by the for-profit Weigh Down workshop were sealed.
Libel suits filed against Remnant Fellowship critics
There have been two cases where Shamblin and other Remnant Fellowship church members have filed libel suits against critics. The first was a libel suit suing for a sum of 3.3 million dollars. It was filed by 67 members of Remnant Fellowship, including Shamblin, against two separate parties: an anonymous blogger and Rafael Martinez. An anonymous blogger posted criticism of Shamblin and her church. One of the statements implied that two Remnant Fellowship members who were indicted for beating their eight-year old son to death had relied on advice from "Remnant leadership." Other statements detailed the prices paid by Shamblin for properties she owned along with private information about the church members on his website. Martinez, a vocal critic of Remnant Fellowship, claimed Shamblin was leading a cult. After being threatened with a 3.3 million dollar lawsuit, the blogger recanted and posted an apology on his site. Martinez never changed his stance or changed any material on his website critical of Gwen so the trial went on. Martinez moved to dismiss the claim against him in January 2007. At the first hearing on April 4, 2007, the judge granted Martinez's motion concluding "the Plaintiffs' Complaint does not sufficiently state a claim for defamation" to which the judge gave the plaintiffs 15 days to amend their complaint. Rather than amending, the plaintiffs withdrew the suit.
Martinez continued in his claims, causing Shamblin and Tedd Anger (a leader of Shamblin's church) to file a second suit against him. On March 22, 2010, this suit was heard in Williamson County Circuit Court in Tennessee. The judge granted the defense's motion for summary judgment and dismissed the suit. Shamblin and Anger appealed to the Tennessee Court of Appeals, Case No. M2010-00974-COA-R3-CV, and in an opinion filed April 13, 2011, the dismissal was affirmed: "This defamation action arises out of the publication of a statement to an internet website. The trial court held that plaintiffs were unable to show actual malice in order to sustain defamation and false light invasion of privacy claims and granted summary judgment to the defendant. Finding no error, we affirm."
- The Weigh Down Diet (1997), ISBN 0-385-49324-X
- Rise Above (2000), ISBN 0-7852-6876-6
- Dieta Weigh Down (Spanish Translation - 2000), ISBN 0-881-13615-8
- Exodus Devotional Book (2006), ISBN 1-892729-00-8
- Exodus Devotional: The True Vine (2006), ISBN 1-892729-08-3
- The Legend to The Treasure (2007), ISBN 1-892729-80-6
- Breakthrough Journal (2009), ISBN 1-892729-05-9
- Weigh Down Basics Workbook (2010), ISBN 1-892729-10-5
- History of the One True God: Volume 1: the Origin of Good and Evil (2012), ISBN 978-1-892-72914-9
- Exodus Devotional: Laying down Your Idols (2002), ISBN 1-892729-77-6
- The Last Exodus (2003)
- El Ultimo Exodo (2004)
- Zion Kids: Part 1 - Starting Over (2008)
- Zion Kids: Part 2 - Children Of The Father (2008)
- A to Zion (2008) ISBN 1-892729-00-8
- Zion Kids: Part 3 - Doing The Will Of God (2009)
- Zion Kids: Part 4 - All Things Point Up To God (2010)
- In the Beginning (2010) ISBN 1-892729-11-3
- Exodus Out of Egypt (1992)
- Feasting on the Will of the Father (1993)
- Rising Above the Pull of the Refrigerator (1996)
- Finding the Buried Keys (1996)
- Set Free from Eating Disorders (1999), ISBN 1-892729-61-X
- Weigh Down at Home Series (1999)
- Feeding Children Physically & Spiritually (1999)
- Exodus From Strongholds (1998), ISBN 1-892729-08-3
- Weigh Down Advanced (2001)
- The Last Exodus (2003)
- El Ultimo Exodo (2003)
- Exodus Out of Egypt: The Change Series (2005)
- The Legend to The Treasure (2007)
- Breakthrough (2008), ISBN 1-892729-04-0
- Weigh Down Basics (2010), ISBN 1-892729-10-5
- Save Your Heart for Me (1998) ISBN 1-892729-02-4
- State of the Church (1999)
- Constant Encouragement Year One (2003)
- Constant Encouragement Year Two (2004)
- Heaven's Kiss (2008)
- Breakthrough Series Audios (2008) ISBN 1-892729-06-7
- Rebuilding The Wall – Chicago (2009)
- Idolatry Forbidden (2009)
- History of The One True God - Volume 1: The Origin of Good and Evil Videos (2012)
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- "You Can Overcome". Retrieved 26 November 2012.
- Stein, Joel (1999-10-24). "The Low-Carb Diet Craze". Time (in eng). Retrieved 2007-05-20.
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- Kennedy, John W. (12/9/2002). "New Sect: Weigh Down guru Gwen Shamblin's Remnant Fellowship grows.". Christianity Today (in eng). Retrieved 2007-04-09.
- "Remnant Fellowship Church Homepage". remnantfellowship.org. Retrieved 2009-05-29.
- Mead, Rebecca (2001-01-15). "Letter from Tennessee: Slim for Him". The New Yorker (in eng). Retrieved 2007-04-06.[dead link]
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- "Gwen Shamblin's Weigh Down Workshop". skinnyondiets.com. Retrieved 2007-05-23.
- Griffith, Marie (2004). Born Again Bodies: Flesh and Spirit in American Christianity. Los Angeles: University of California Press. p. 337. ISBN 0-520-21753-5.
- Allen, Patricia (2005-01-27). "Religion professor examines 'salvation by diet' phenomenon" (in eng). News@Princeton. Retrieved 2007-05-23.
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- Tennessee Court of Appeals opinion. Case No. M2010-00974-COA-R3-CV
- "Weigh Down at Home Series". Retrieved 2011-06-24.
- "Weigh Down Advanced". Retrieved 2011-06-24.
- "El Ultimo Exodo". Retrieved 2011-06-24.
- "Exodus Out of Egypt: The Change Series". Retrieved 2011-06-24.
- "The Legend to The Treasure". Retrieved 2011-06-24.
- "The Breakthrough Series". Retrieved 2011-06-24.
- "'Weigh Down Basics". Retrieved 2011-06-24.
- Gwen Shamblin Website link retrieved 08/23/2009
- Remnant Fellowship Church Website link retrieved 01/16/2010