Tim Smith, one of the first members
of Remnant Fellowship and employee of the Weigh Down Workshop,
provided to us his own personal account of what he found as he became a part
of the group just before the emergence of Gwen Shamblin's Remnant vision.
The entire account was never released in full, and portions of it were
reproduced in our Spiritwatch article on the cultism of Remnant Fellowship.
We are now pleased to do so. This personal account was authored entirely by
Tim in September, 2002.
did you join WD as an employee and what did you do?
My first affiliation
with WD was just before Gwen's "State of the Church" video presentation came
out. I traveled with her as part of a praise band for that particular date
in Dallas. I think that was 1997 or 98. I participated in a number of those
type of engagements on a part time basis, then went to work full time for WD
in 1999. I first worked in the warehouse, then moved over to the office
shortly thereafter. There I worked on the phones in the Outreach Department
and eventually moved on to take care of (organize) the in-house
merchandising department. (Internet orders, merchandise returns, etc.) I
also continued to participate in most musical situations that came up; as
well as overseeing the merchandise (concessions) when Gwen would go on her
speaking engagements to other cities.
2) When did you belong to Remnant
My wife and I were one
of the first families to be involved in the RF. I'm not sure exactly, but I
do believe it was the Spring of 1999. When we started, there were maybe 10
or 12 people. We left in the fall of 2001, shortly after the September 11th
3) Why did you leave both places?
By a legal agreement, I
cannot discuss the circumstances of my leaving WD, but I can tell you why we
Under most other circumstances, I would not have agreed to be
involved in this interview; however, since leaving this group, my wife and I
have been contacted by no less than four sets of parents who's children
(young adults and grown) are involved with RF. By all practical purposes,
these parents have been cut-off from any meaningful relationship with their
children because they don't participate in the group or attend Sunday /
Wednesday services with their children. Our hearts are broken for them,
knowing there's not much we can do but lend a sympathetic ear and supporting
prayer. They are all deeply hurt and have no idea what to do. They tell me
they are treated like ignorant outcasts for not "climbing on board" and
joining the rest. Some parents are enduring having to attend just so they
can be closer to their children, while totally disagreeing with what's going
As a member of RF for three years, it is my opinion that this is,
without any doubt, a cult, and people need to be aware that this group
exists. I feel that sharing my personal experience will in some way help
those inside who are struggling to have the courage to get out and those on
the fence to just stay away.
THE FOLLOWING IS MY
VIEWPOINT AND MY OWN TRUTHFUL, PERSONAL EXPERIENCE WITH GWEN SHAMBLIN AND
THE REMNANT FELLOWSHIP. MY AGENDA IS TO INFORM, WARN AND ENLIGHTEN, NOT
ANY OPINIONS STATED ARE
There are a number of
reasons for leaving RF, and I will bring to light just a few important ones.
A prime reason was we really felt the need to find better teaching and
instruction for our young child. Neither my wife nor I "grew up in church"
so we didn't have a great bible based foundation. We just didn't know enough
to pass on to our child. As time passed, we saw that there was no "age
appropriate" teaching at Remnant, and no plans to implement any. And while
we did (at the time) fully support Gwen's teachings, we felt the need for
more diverse methodology. I tried, as well as my wife, to address this
situation a number of times. I am a degreed educator, and I believe strongly
in age level instruction on any subject. It's just common sense that you
wouldn't approach a first grade math class with the same methodology and
material you would high school level. Unfortunately, this logic was not
logical to Ms. Shamblin. Once though, at a parents' meeting, we actually did
have a conversation that ended up with Gwen saying she would start to
develop a kids program and/or series of teachings. But that never happened
and was never discussed again. Gwen does not believe in Sunday school. She
and other members close to her would consistently make fun of other church's
VBS and Sunday schools saying it was nothing but a bunch of stories with
puppet shows and "watered down" meanings. While offering no viable
alternatives, it was just blatant criticism.
We would sit on Sunday
mornings for two, three hours while Gwen spoke and preached and ran us
through reams of Bible verses and piles of justification as to why we needed
to believe every word she said. Most weeks, it was "repentance, repentance,
repentance." All well and good, but that was pretty much it, along with a
plethora of verses to support and prove her viewpoint. But my point is: for
all of the young children, who had to sit through all of this, it was quite
boring and a good number of them were fast asleep or fidgeting or coloring
or reading or staring off into space. From where I sat, there wasn't much
these children were gleaning from all the talk. There are parents who will
support the idea that the children are learning by sitting there and
hearing Gwen speak, that they DO pick up things. Yes, the children do hear
things and will remember some. They're aren't stupid, but I will strongly
favor the practice of focused, age appropriate teaching instead of Gwen's
"osmosis" theory of learning.
Another reason we felt
the need to leave was we saw that there was no community outreach of any
kind. The outreach was totally performed and realized within the group.
Again, the subject was never taken seriously. The mention of sponsoring a
needy family at Christmas time or even donating to an "Angel Tree" type
program or (God forbid) going down to serve meals to the homeless at a
shelter were met with scoffs and "waste of time" attitudes. It only took one
Christmas season for my family to see the growing self-focus of the group.
We never brought it up again.
More and more time went
by in 2001, and we were increasingly uncomfortable with the strong words
Gwen would preach each week. Her open and frequent criticism of other
churches, pastors, priests became sharper and more cutting as time passed.
She mentioned them by name and made no bones about her negative opinions.
And while preaching the negative Biblical affects of slander, she felt no
hesitation about doing just that against other religious institutions and
leaders. It seemed to be an attempt to make her teachings more justified by
degrading and finding fault with others. It really became obvious that she
was attempting to convince anyone and everyone willing to listen that hers
was and is the only "true church" and God himself has appointed her the
spokeswoman to spread her message and follow her line of thinking and
Biblical perspective. If you weren't in RF, you were in a counterfeit church
and you needed to get out. She came right out and said she doesn't believe
in any sort of "Godhead" or "Trinity." She teaches that
is what is really comprises the Holy Spirit. Not an entity, deity, person
(whatever) but certainly not the 3rd person of a Godhead.
I'll be the first to admit I don't know everything, but I'm personally very
uncomfortable with that line of belief. There is Biblical proof of a
Godhead, and there is proof of Jesus being God in the flesh. The King James
version actually talks about the Godhead, but Shamblin summarily rejects
that Bible as false and unreliable. In her view, the NIV is the only one
worth studying…as long as you follow her slant on the scriptures, of course.
In human terms and with our limited human brains and understanding, it's
hard to imagine someone or something being both God and Man at the same
time. Her logic was, "If God is on earth in the form of Jesus, who's minding
the store? Surely one can't be in two places at the same time!" It is this
"thinking" which (in my opinion) is very dangerous. By adopting and
accepting this limited logic and human perspective, she in essence is
teaching her flock to doubt the power of God, to doubt the fact that He can
do anything and be anything. We're talking about GOD
here, not some math experiment with a finite answer. There are
certain mysteries about the Bible and God and Heaven, and I believe that's
exactly what God intended. But she claims to know and understand it
She then started to
teach that God was a God of "conditional" love. In other words, you had to
"do" something to earn His love. Her outlook was that if you turn from God,
He will turn from you. That statement is scriptural and by
itself, might hold up. But she was putting God in a box and scaring people
into only viewing that narrow, one dimensional perspective of what God's
temperament was all about. Any mention of the countless scriptures
describing God's love as enduring and endless and forever
and the concept of grace never seemed to enter her picture or teaching.
Consequently, it was more and more of this kind of teaching and (I believe)
twisted Biblical perspective that made our decision to leave necessary.
Other people who dared
to leave RF were cut off. They were branded as those who "didn't get it" and
the overall word from Gwen (and supported by church "leadership" and others
in the church body) was to not associate or have anything to do with them.
This brings me back to what I said earlier about the parents who contacted
us. I thought it amazing that a group who looked upon others outside of RF
(those who left or weren't interested) as outcasts. I always thought a true
church (a loving and caring church, a compassionate church) is a place to
nurture and bring those along towards the life filled with Christ. Not once,
not ever would they entertain the slightest notion that these people had
left because there might be something wrong in their church or it's teaching
or leadership. Everyone else and their viewpoint was wrong.
Upon our departure from
the group, we sent a "blanket" e-mail to the entire congregation at the same
time. We felt it necessary for everyone to receive the same information at
the same time. It was very positive, short and definitely non-critical. We
just presented the fact that we had different viewpoints and philosophy as
it pertained to certain issues and it was time to go. We also stated that we
still considered everyone in the group to be our friends, but we really
didn't care to discuss this issue any further. In the two weeks directly
following our letter no one from the group spoke to anyone in my family.
Except for Robie Bass. He immediately e-mailed me back to tell me that he
was in support of what I said, and how good of a job I did in my wording and
non-threatening manner, as well as the way I separated "method" from
"teaching content." He later changed his mind.
At work, I received an
occasional "hi" or wave and I was only spoken to in the context of WD
related issues by others who basically had no choice but to talk to me. It
was very strange and uncomfortable. What really bothered me overall, was the
fact that there were two gentlemen in the group whom I considered my best
friends. I saw them socially, went to sporting events with, played music
with…things like that. To this day, neither one has attempted to contact or
speak to me. After about two weeks, David Martin came to me and made the
excuse that the reason that no one had gotten back to me concerning the
letter was that they were just too busy with WD work issues. He assured me
though, that he spoke for everyone and that the whole church was in support
of our decision and respected how we felt and wished us nothing but the
best. At the same time, however, he was very insistent in trying to tell me
that no one had spoken to me because that was what I wrote in my letter. I
told him that's not what I wrote, nor what I meant. I made it very clear
that only the issues concerning our departure from the church did
that apply to. My explanation fell to deaf ears. Again he insisted on
"putting words in my mouth" and trying to tell me what I meant. It became
clear that he was trying to simply place the blame on me for their inability
to address that fact that someone may have actually had a legitimate reason
for leaving Remnant.
That same afternoon,
Gwen caught me in the hall and asked if I would walk her to her car and we
could "talk." I did, and she assured me that she "loved" me (and my family)
and wished us the best and she will pray for us in finding a new church.
Things felt fairly good at that point until later that evening. I received a
call from a church member (still attending at that time) who told me that
the Sunday following our letter (now almost 3 weeks ago), Gwen got up in
front of the group and told everyone that "once again, a letter had been
sent to the church, and once again, she and they were under attack." The
member told me that it was obvious to everyone, she spoke of my letter, and
went on to portray the author as criticizing and from "Satan" and someone
not to be associated with. She spoke of us as ones who wanted to follow our
own selfish desires and attend the counterfeit church. After being labeled
as such, I now understood why no one had contacted us.
The last and final
straw which solidified our decision to leave was following the September 11th
attacks. On that morning, not even before the second tower had collapsed, we
(all the WD employees) were huddled in front of a TV, staring in disbelief.
We were all asked to be there so we could (or so we thought) pray. After we
were assembled, Gwen came in. She went over to the screen and after watching
a minute or so, started shouting at the TV. She kept wagging her finger at
it saying (paraphrasing), "See? I told them something like this could
happen. They wouldn't listen to my warnings, they wouldn't listen to me. Now
look! America's an arrogant nation, and God has brought His judgment down.
And I told you all this could happen!" Well, a prayer was
said, and she left. David Martin then went on to reinforce the notion that
we all just witnessed a true prophet from God confirming her own prophesy.
It was a very frightening moment. Apparently, a couple of months prior,
during a taping session for WD Advanced, she said that yes, America was a
place that could be attacked by a foreign country and that it shouldn't take
for granted our security measures. (I've actually heard the same thing on
CNN for years) They have apparently decided that this was prophesy, and the
September 11th events were its' fulfillment. Biblical prophets
and prophesies were VERY specific in detail about where, when and what the
events were about. Ms. Shamblin's so-called September 11th
"vision" was anything but.
The next Sunday, she
got up and heavily criticized President Bush for his lack of
leadership and for not mentioning God in a stronger context when he
addressed the nation. She blamed a lack of meaningful spiritual guidance
(Billy Graham & company) on the President's response and explanation to the
country. She even went so far as to give us the "if I were President"
speech. I knew then I was dealing with someone very far from being a prophet
and a group of people who worshipped the very ground she walked on. It was
time to go.
The following week was
one of what I thought was an understanding of her and her reasoning. I
contacted a church deacon, and I went through what I believed (at the time)
to be correction and enlightenment. It was just the beginning of my real
understanding. I was given much scripture (by asking God) as to what I need
to be learning. He brought me many, and all leaned on following Jesus. I then asked Him to reveal to me if my initial reaction to Gwen's
self proclaimed prophet status was warranted or if I was missing something
that they (RF) were not. He immediately led me to Ezekiel 16: 1-34. At that
instant, my head completely cleared. There was no doubt, no hesitancy, no
confusion. It all made perfect sense. The power, the influence, the money,
the houses, the cars. It was really time to go now. I prayed for
deliverance heavily, and mercifully I was gone from Remnant
and WD within one month.
It is my heartfelt
belief that much prayer and compassion needs to be sent towards Gwen
Shamblin and all of her followers. I believe she is not just someone who has
missed the mark in Biblical understanding. I believe that she has fallen to
the powers of Satan and has allowed her ego, lust for power, manipulation,
control and love of money to completely take over her life. Her need to be
the center of attention has taken it's tragic toll on the families and loved
ones of RF members who don't follow her. I pray in the name of Jesus they
all find the true Jesus and stop walking the path of the self-righteous.
4) Why did RF start
in the first place?
Because Gwen wanted it
to. This just didn't "happen." In the fall of 2000, she and I had a
conversation in her office. I expressed to her my concern that WD and
Remnant materials, teachings, etc. were getting too closely related and that
I was afraid that the two would become so close, that one would or could be
the downfall of the other. Gwen responded by telling me that all this was
inevitable. She said she had had this "vision" of her church many, many
years ago, and it now looked like it was all coming to fruition. She said
she believed that the WD programs made it necessary and possible for her to
gain the credibility with the institutional churches so she could begin
teaching what she believed needed to be taught. She said she's been planning
this for a long time, and now I see she had to make sure she had an
5) Is Gwen Shamblin considered
the pastor, a prophet or what?
She is the pastor or
preacher (or whatever you want to call it) of the Remnant Fellowship, though
for awhile she would not own to the label. By now, however, she has embraced
this "religious leader" tag quite willingly. According to most in the group,
however, she is a heavenly-sent prophet, and she believes it, too, but you
probably won't hear her say it openly herself. There is no real evidence of
her being a true prophet, especially if you realize all the 9/11 nonsense is
just propaganda. She definitely has done nothing to squash or curb any talk
of her prophet status.
6) Is there a board or some other form of accountability?
Yes and no. There is a
board of appointed (by Gwen) deacons and deaconesses. This was formed only
after she came under fire as a result of her "Trinity" views. The case
against her was that there was no accountability and she was just free to
say anything without any meaningful accountability. It was formed just to
(hopefully) "shut her critics up." The board consists of husband and wife
teams over whom she has complete control and influence. They all believe she
is a prophet, so at the same time submit completely to her authority.
realistically, they aren't much more than mouthpieces for her direction and
desires for the church. She controls it all. I never once saw any
authoritative action or decision displayed by any "church leader" that
wasn't pre-approved by Gwen. Accountability? Not possible with this
arrangement. They literally "hang" on every word she speaks, and believe
each one, so any meaningful accountability is impossible nor desired!
7) What role does Gwen's husband play?
David is a great guy,
and very well versed in the Bible. He started attending RF right after
Desert Oasis 2000. That was in August. Even after then, his involvement was
spotty, at best. He would come around for a while, then be absent for many
weeks. He was playing bass in the praise band too. Even then, it was good
for awhile, then he wouldn't come for quite awhile. Prior to that, I know
for a fact (related to me by both Gwen and David Martin), that he wanted
nothing to do with Remnant Fellowship. He was quite adamant against Gwen's
leadership role in this situation and there was much turmoil in the Shamblin
household. Gwen likes to equate the beginnings of Remnant (4 Shamblins, 4
Martins) with the eight left on the Ark. That was part of her "vision." In
fact, it's part of the explanation given to inquiring callers asking about
the inception of RF. This is an insult and a falsehood. Since we know that
(husband) David wasn't involved in the beginning, she seems to be one shy.
In fact, I'm personally appalled by the scriptural comparison when fact
states it is simply not true.
8) What do you think the goals of RF are?
To have more Remnant
Fellowships, I imagine. I do know that Gwen and members of the RF travel to
other cities regularly. She speaks at an event (usually on a Saturday) in
cities where there is a RF church already planted (or very strong interest).
She preaches the same message to the attendees as she does in RF services,
and always invites those interested to a church service near that locale on
Sunday. It is my opinion that these events are not much more than church
recruiting sessions. Since they believe that they are in the only true
church and that the prophet Gwen speaks the only message worth following; I
would imagine they feel the need to make sure that if you're not
involved with Remnant, you're in a counterfeit church and you need to get
out, get in tune with the line of authority Gwen lays out or face the
consequences of hell.
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