the Spirit Watch
Our Experience With Weigh Down Workshop and Remnant Fellowship
by Steve and Betsy Miozzi, ex-members of Remnant Fellowship
We originally joined Weigh Down Workshop in 1998, that was
given through our local church. Basically I (Steve) was the more
serious partner about losing weight than my wife because I had
more weight to lose. This was the new Out of Egypt series. I
was encouraged because for the first time in my life, this was the
only diet that had worked for me. I lost 35 pounds in the first
12-week program. Betsy joined mainly because she wanted
to quit smoking, and she dropped out about the third week. I
reenrolled in the class and lost an additional 10 pounds. Then I coordinated a men's class at my church. The men in my class had
some weight loss success, but my weight loss was slowing down.
We continued holding the men's class a second time, but a third
time was unsuccessful because there was a lack of interest. Wethe program and had lost 60 pounds, but he argued with me over
felt that God was leading us to another church to spread this
message, so we held a co-ed class at a new church where we
were now attending. The pastor, one of the participants, loved
Scriptures that were presented in the program. After the first class,
there was no other interest for another class. Therefore, we took
the Exodus from Strongholds class back to our old church, since
Betsy wanted to quit smoking. I was still struggling because I
had hit a weight-loss plateau.
In March 2001, while we were doing the second Strongholds
class, Gwen Shamblin (the founder of Weigh Down), announced
that she was going to be speaking in Columbus, Ohio, in May, and
would give us all the answers to why we couldn't lose all the weight.
The name of her tour was Rebuilding the Wall. At this seminar, her
claim was that after someone would finish a WD class, they would
gain weight back because the churches that they went back to
allowed sin. Even people filled with sin were sitting on the same pew,churches were counterfeit; therefore, we needed a place of worship
unchanged for years, according to Gwen. She claimed that all other
where sin was not tolerated. This place of worship was called
Remnant Fellowship, which was started by her family and the David
Martin family in 1999.
In June 2001 we were invited to come down to Nashville,
Tennessee, for a "Remnant weekend" to learn about how to starta local Remnant fellowship in Ohio and to ask further questions about what Remnant stood for. We arrived at the Weigh Down
building on a Friday evening, and we were just amazed by the
joyful, loving way they greeted us. We thought this must be what
heaven is like. We were impressed that everyone was getting
along with each other and we couldn't believe how well-behaved
the children were. Everyone seemed so happy. It was a weekend
full of learning, fellowship, and baptisms. On that Saturday, Gwen
held a question-and-answer session, where we got to interact withher on a more personal level. We were impressed by the fact that
she seemed so prepared for any question that was asked of her.
She seemed like she was "bigger than life," powerful and charismatic.
She seemed to be so generous with opening her home up to so
many people. The weekend ended with a huge barbecue at the
Shamblin home with David, Gwen's husband grilling. We later
learned that Gwen's husband, David, was part of Remnant Fellowship in name only, not in presence. I felt a strong need to
be baptized (immersed) in the Shamblin pool, along with several
people who are now leaders in Remnant Fellowship. Betsy was
baptized also, but her heart really wasn't totally in it. She felt"pressured" to be baptized along with everyone else.
Before we left Nashville, Gwen prepared us for how our
current church leaders would respond when we presented some
tough questions about them condoning sin in the church. She said
that if they were serious about getting rid of sin, that they would
immediately repent, fall on their knees, and go to work about how
to rid sin in their church. If they weren't serious, they would give
excuses as to why they couldn't do this right away. After that weekend, we journeyed back to our current church in Ohio. The leaders
responded the way she said they would...they said that getting
rid of sin would take some time and that it was a process. After
much prayer and many e-mails back and forth between us and
the Remnant Fellowship in Nashville discussing our current
church situation, we decided to leave our church in order to
help rid sin from our own lives. Gwen said that stopping sin
was not a process; it was a choice.
We were informed that there was another family in our area
who was interested in forming a local Remnant Fellowship. We
met Rich and Kelly Gadke and discussed Scripture. While Kelly
was ready to "jump right in" and start the church, Rich still had
some reservations that night. After a few weeks, we decided to
start worshipping on Sunday mornings: singing, praying, and
reading Scripture. Our fellowship grew slowly. Kelly Gadke
taught Weigh Down classes in her home. In the fall of 2001,
every Remnant member was encouraged to take the new Weigh
Down Advanced class. The new Weigh Down Advanced class
was much more intense and convicting. For the first time in a
Weigh Down class, Betsy had weight-loss success and I
started losing weight again.
In the late spring of 2002, the men from Remnant Nashville
began calling the men from outlying home fellowships across
the country in order to encourage them. There were approximately
20 fellowships other than the Remnant home base. After talking withRobie Bass, one of the men from Nashville, it was determined that
we needed to visit Nashville in order to be strengthened and instructed in our journey to continue losing weight. We spent a
whole week at the Bass' home. We felt very comfortable there.
The first Saturday we were there, we went to the Shamblin
estate to offer our support in preparing the grounds for an upcoming Remnant wedding. When we pulled onto the property,
Gwen was outside directing the activities and gave us a disapproving
look. Then she asked us, "What are you doing here?" We responded,
"Robie Bass invited us down, so that we could witness how others
lived this Remnant lifestyle." She began questioning us: were we on
vacation? or what was our present employment status? When she
discovered that I was receiving unemployment benefits at this time
(due to a layoff), she wanted to know why I was in Nashville instead
of back in Ohio looking for work. She then walked off. We began
helping with the flower planting for the wedding, and David Martin, one of the leaders, talked with me for about 2 hours after wedetails of my job and as to why I hadn't lost all my weight yet. He
finished. He seemed to be on a fact-finding mission as to the
said that I needed to repent about the weight and to know that if I
overate I was disobeying God. He told me that I needed to get back with the program, so I repented right then and there. I felt like I
needed to accept the correction and follow his advice. On Sunday
we worshipped at the Weigh Down building with the local fellowship
and noticed that the number of members were growing in the
That afternoon, we were invited to a wedding shower held at the
Langsdon home (Joe Langsdon was one of the leaders). Betsy
and Gwen were standing out on the back deck, talking, and Betsy
was wearing a tank top because the weather was warm. Gwen
questioned her about the butterfly tattoos that she had received
before she became a Christian. She had 4 tattoos that was easily
seen. She said, "What is this about your tattoos?" She answered
that they were done before she had known the Lord and they were
scars to remind me that she had been forgiven of my past sins. She
hoped that the tattoos would be a witness to someone about the
miracle-changing powers of our Lord. Gwen said that she didn't
think they (tattoos) were not appropriate here and that she didn'tnot ....put tattoo marks on yourself. I am the Lord." (NIV) She
want the Remnant children exposed to them. She mentioned that
it was wrong to have tattoos because Leviticus 19:28 states "...do
suggested that I always wear long sleeves or the half sleeves likeshe does. Betsy was shocked!
Then we talked with Gwen some more, and she questioned us
as to why Betsy was not working. She was concerned that we
seemed to be "on vacation" visiting in Nashville when we both shouldbe actively pursuing jobs in Ohio. I told her that Betsy had had
health problems for the past two years and wasn't working because
of it. She lost her job due to health reasons. I told her how I believedGod answered a prayer by directing us to go to a chiropractor for her
problems. She proceeded to say in a loud voice, "You can't go to
a chiropractor. Don't you know that they drug you before they treat
you?" Once again we were shocked. Then someone called her awayand our time with her that night was over.
We went back to the
Bass's home to go to bed, and Betsy informed me of the tattooI had read the book of Galatians at least 3 or 4 times, and my take
discussion. The tattoo issue totally puzzled me. The week before
on it was that Jesus freed us from following all the laws of the Old
Testament. Upon reading Leviticus 19:28 that night at bedtime,
we noticed that verse 27 states: "Do not cut the hair at the sides
of your head, or clip off the edges of your beard." So, the book of Galatians made me believe that my heart was more important
than Old Testament rules and regulations, but if we were to follow
verse 28, why weren't we also to follow verse 27? We slept very
little that night, spending most of the night discussing the subject.
The next morning we went downstairs and talked to Donna
Bass after she noticed that we looked somewhat disturbed.
She asked if we needed to discuss this further with Gwen. We
had a lunch date with some Remnant ladies, so we headed to
the Weigh Down Workshop building a little early. We told theladies we weren't attending lunch because we wanted to talk
to Gwen instead. David Martin and Joe Langsdon questioned
us earnestly about why we didn't go to lunch with the ladies.
We said that we had some questions to ask Gwen. At first, we
were told that Gwen was too busy to talk to us. The next thing
we knew we were in her office.
I started the conversation by
asking her to restate what she had said to my wife so that I
hadn't misinterpreted what my wife told me. Gwen said,
"Do you think I'm lying to you?" This was totally not what I
was saying. I didn't respond because I was so stunned that a
"Spirit-led" person did not understand what I was asking and that
she took offense, when none was intended. After that, I continued
to try to ask how the book of Galatians and the Old Testament
laws and regulations could work together. The reason I was
asking was because I was thinking of Galatians 2:21 which reads:
"I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could
be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!"
I was never
able to explain further because I was stopped continually and
Gwen was off on a completely different tangent. Included in
the tangent was Gwen's command to apologize to the women
that we backed out of lunch with. We were also told that we
were to apologize to Donna Bass for involving her in this.
Our questions were never answered. After David Martin and Joe
Langsdon (who was still standing there), agreed to agree with her,We drove to a nearby mall's parking lot and sat there,
dumbfounded, not sure what to do next.We sat in the parking lot for over 1 1/2 hours, and we decided
it must be something wrong with us, so we gave Remnant another
opportunity. Later at the Bass's house we apologized to Donna
and the other ladies. They graciously accepted and suggested that we have lunch together the next day.
Later that week, we attended a Rebuilding the Wall seminar
in Atlanta, Georgia. When Joe Langsdon saw us there, he said,
"I'm glad you decided to stay." Gwen noticed that I had lost a
few pounds. I was amazed that she could tell when I had lostjust a few pounds. We went back home in a few days. We still
had an uneasy feeling, but we felt it was us not "dying to self"
A week later, right before Memorial Day 2002, Betsy invited
Debbie Hahn, a lifelong friend, and her 11-year-old son toincluding Michael Shamblin, Gwen's grown son. Michael made
Marion, Ohio, for a Remnant gathering. Many of the young
people from Remnant Nashville were in Marion for the weekend,
a positive impression on Debbie, and she seriously considered
joining Remnant. Betsy and I continued encouraging her, so
she agreed to attend more Remnant functions.
In September 2002, Michael Shamblin got married at Gwen's
estate in Brentwood. Debbie and her son came to Nashville
with us for the first time. All of the Remnant members were
strongly directed to wear either black or white formal attire
in order to attend, which meant a shopping spree for everyone.
When we walked into the wedding and were greeted by Gwen,
she praised Betsy for having her tattoos covered with a long-
sleeve dress. The following day, Gwen invited the fellowship over
for two separate meetings: the women's meeting was inside; the
men's meeting was out on the lawn. At the women's meeting, there
was a question-answer session. The subject of getting children off
medicine for ADHD came up, so Debbie asked about her 11-year
-old son, who had been taking ADHD medicine since the age of 4.
She was told by Gwen to get him off the medicine (not wean him
off the medicine) and to talk to another Remnant member who
had successfully accomplished that with her son.
When we got back to Cleveland, Debbie began doing just
that. She slowly started taking him off the medicine. He became
more and more unruly, and the issue of disciplining him came up.
In October 2002, we once again went to Nashville for a religious
festival at Remnant. I approached Tedd Anger for advice about
Debbie's son. He told me that Debbie should spank her son with
a glue stick or a belt on the back of his bare thighs in increments
of 10, and if that didn't work, he was to be put in his room with
nothing to occupy him except a Bible. He added that if Debbie
didn't do this, Betsy or I should do it. I was flabbergasted at this
and didn't know what to say or think. We shared this information
with Debbie. We decided that the punishment should be much
less severe and what a normal parent would do (with regard to
spankings.) One Wednesday night at the Remnant Cleveland
East service, her son was disruptive and she was instructed to
take him in another room to reprimand him because he seemed
totally out of control. This seemed to make the situation worse,
so I called Tedd Anger on a speaker phone for instructions.
Debbie and I were both told that he needed the 10 swats, and
if that didn't work, he needed 10 more hard swats with a belt or
glue stick. She was told that if she followed these instructions
exactly that he would become obedient over time. To sum up,
after a period of time, the advice hadn't worked, Debbie was still
overweight, she put him back on medication, and she left Remnant.
To this day, the 11-year-old child, now 15, refuses to attend any
In April 2003, we came down to Nashville for their Passover
service. Gwen had read in the Old Testament that there were
festivals that needed to be celebrated each year, and Passover
was one of them. We roasted lamb meat, ate bitter herbs and
unleavened bread. All the yeast was taken out of the Remnant
houses and kept out for seven days. Betsy needed to buy
makeup to cover her tattoos for Elizabeth Shamblin's wedding,
which was occurring Passover weekend. At a Remnant member's
house, we first tried some make-up to cover the tattoo on her
arm, but it didn't work. Then, we went to the mall and found
someone who sold stage make-up. It worked well, but it cost
almost 100 dollars. We found out that other Remnant members
with tattoos had used either Band-Aids or decorative armbands
to cover up for the wedding. One time before the wedding, Betsy
stopped by the Weigh Down building, and she didn't have her arm
tattoo covered. One suggestion Gwen made about covering the
tattoo was for Betsy to use her left hand and keep it over her right
arm so people wouldn't notice her tattoo. When Betsy demonstrated
what she suggested, Gwen noticed that she had had my nails
professionally done to fit in with the color scheme for the wedding.
Gwen then made the comment that she didn't approve of
Betsy's nails and that they would draw too much attention.
She was shocked, but she thought it was just one more thing
that she didn't do right while in Remnant. The little diamond like sequins that were glued on her nails came off, and Betsy
just thought it was God's will that she should get a French
manicure instead. This wedding visit was very expensive for
us: travel expenses, the cost of the arm make-up, the cost of the
dress, my tuxedo, the two nail visits and the expensive present
that was on the wedding registry list. But we had to remind ourselves that it "wasn't about us" because that would be thinking of
self, and we had to "die to self."
While there was a wedding rehearsal, we babysat one of the
Remnant member's sons who was about six years old. We were
at the large Weigh Down warehouse where the Passover celebrations were held, and the little boy was sitting with us. He
was fidgeting, and after awhile we told him to stop. He didn't.
On the way home to this Remnant family's house, I told the little
boy in the car that I would have to tell his father if his father asked.
He got noticeably nervous. Upon arriving at the house, the first
thing the father asked was how did his child behave. When I told
him the truth, he just looked at his son, his son got more nervous,
and they walked into a room where we heard the sound of a
hard spanking and a child crying out. The father thanked me for
letting him know.
The Monday after Passover Sunday, there was a general
question asked about how many were thinking about moving
to Nashville. Many people, including us, raised our hands. There
was a paper passed around for people to write their names,
how many were coming, and phone numbers. (By June, we
had our house in Ohio up for sale.) We were in Nashville a
week and a half, and served in a great capacity, helping where
needed and transporting many families to and from the Nashville
airport, using our own van and gas.
The last week of July in 2003, there was a Remnant family
camp outside of Nashville. I couldn't attend because of work,
but Betsy felt led to. She was accidentally placed in the "Beulah"
cabin, which pertained to the women who were married but did
not have their husbands "on board" in Remnant. These Beulah
women were very pampered at this camp because of the
persecution that supposedly was happening to them
at home. They received facials, foot rubs, hand massages,
and Gwen even got special permission at this campsite to have
wine and mudslides in the Beulah cabin only.
One of the first nights we were there, there was a big
rainstorm with thundering and lightning. The whole Remnant
nation was under a big pavilion with a stage. Gwen had just begun speaking. The storm got so bad that Gwen said that
it was God's wrath that was on them, and that we'd better
get down on our faces and pray for forgiveness and mercy.
About 400 of us got down on our chairs, on the floor, anywhere we could and prayed. After the storm ended, Gwen
was praising God that He saved us from His wrath, and
everyone was rejoicing.
During that week, Betsy was confronted on a couple of
issues by local leadership. She was told that if it continued
this woman leader would go to Gwen and then she would
be out of Remnant. She was also told by this woman that
I was in for a rude awakening when Betsy got home.
When I came back at the end of the week to pick
up my wife, she was staying at a members' house in
Franklin. She seemed very shaken up by some of the
events that had happened at camp. She seemed convinced that we had brought "sin" into the camp because
I had not lost all my weight and she had had some issues
that she was corrected about that week. In Remnant,
members were continually told that they could be
sinless if they worked hard enough, and that one person's
sin could bring the whole church into eternal destruction.
The fear that we were the cause of the "sin in the
camp" led me to contact Tedd Anger personally for
advice the next day while we were still in Franklin. He was
able to tell me that although I had lost 135 pounds through
the Weigh Down program that he could tell that I had
gained 2 pounds. He also told me that I needed to lose
50 pounds more. In my mind, I didn't think I needed to
lose that much more weight. He was praying for me to
"blow out a knee" so that God could get my attention.
What other church leaders would tell someone that?
I was once again speechless and I repented once
again. He told me that if I wasn't sinning in my eating,
that I should lose 5 pounds a week and this all would
be over in 10 weeks.
Once we returned back to Ohio away from the
other Remnant members, we were beginning to think
that we should leave Remnant. About a week and a
half later, Betsy received a call from local leadership
that Nashville leadership said that they had told me
2 years ago that I had needed to find another job,
and they were upset that it hadn't happened yet. I
asked Betsy if local leadership ever asked to talk
to me personally about my job situation, and she
said no. So I asked my wife, how is that not gossip?
(Remnant members supposedly discouraged gossiping.)
to local Remnant services became more difficult
because of the tension and back-stabbing that
was going on.
In September of 2003, we had missed 2 weeks
of services at our local Remnant location. David Martin
(a Nashville leader) called us and wanted to know
why we hadn't been in church the last 2 weeks.
Local leadership had reported us. We told them that
we went to Niagara Falls for our anniversary one week
and that the other week, we watched the Remnant
webcast services from our own home privately.
I admitted to him that the tension that we experienced
by worshipping with the local fellowship was making
it almost impossible for us to attend peacefully. He
replied, "If you cannot bring yourselves to be with
the local group, you have no business being able
to watch the webcast alone." He also told me that I
needed to call local leadership and apologize. After
a couple of days of considering this, I called them
This did not bring any peace, and
I felt that there was no way that this was going to work.
We even tried attending two more services at this
local fellowship, but there was more tension than
ever. On our way over there to try this for a third
time, Betsy and I switched back and forth between
going or turning around and going home. We finally
turned around and went home.
In October 2003 we attended the Remnant
Feast of Harvest in Marion, Ohio and we took our
11-month-old grandson with us. That Sunday morning
after praise and worship, our grandson started
acting fussy and whiny. Betsy started to get up to
take him out of worship, but she was stopped by
Karen Sims, a Remnant Ohio member. She took
him, put her hand over his mouth to quiet him, and
told me that I needed to stay in the service. I felt
uneasy about this, but I obeyed. Over halfway through
the service, I heard him cry. I started to get up to go
to him and Remnant Marion, Ohio leadership told me
to sit back down, so I did. But immediately after service
I got him and kept him with us and was uneasy the rest
of the day.
Betsy e-mailed local leadership to inform them
that we were leaving. Almost immediately, our web
access to the services and message boards was
cut off. After we left Remnant, we felt that we never
were going to be good enough to go to heaven. We
felt like complete failures. For a good eight months,
we couldn't set foot in our old church, or any church
for that matter. We felt that there was no point in
finding any church because we weren't going to
heaven anymore. This thinking led to feelings of
hopelessness and living for the moment. Many
sins that had been laid down while in our former
church were now becoming a way of life. That
started a cycle of more guilt, then more sin because
it didn't matter. After a period of time, we knew deep
inside that God still loved us and that we could go
back to a church and start over.
The Sunday we
decided to attend our former church, we sat in the
parking lot for 10 minutes because of fear of the
repercussions from this church because of the
judgmental things we had said to them while we
were beginning in Remnant. We finally got the
courage to walk in the door. Upon entering the
door, we were greeted by a smiling face and a
huge hug. That to me was a demonstration of
what Christianity really is.
In summary, it has been a slow process, but
with the help of the pastor and good Christian
friends and the support of people who have
gone through similar experiences in Remnant
and have left, we are doing better. It has been
3 1/2 years since we left, and the reason why
we haven't done a testimony earlier is that talking
about it was so painful. We're hoping that our
testimony will encourage others to come forward
to speak the truth, as we have. We continue to
ask God why we went through this, and maybe
helping others is why. If we can stop one person
from going through this experience, than it has
Back To The Spiritwatch Home Page Go To Another Article On Remnant Fellowship Back To The Cultworld