American novelist Gwen Shamblin Lara (February 18, 1955 – May 29, 2021) also founded the Remnant Fellowship and the Christian diet program The Weigh Down Workshop.
Gwen Shamblin was married twice despite strongly opposing divorce for the majority of her early years at Remnant Fellowship Church. She married David Shamblin, her first husband, in 1978, a few years before she founded the Weigh Down Christian dieting workshop that catapulted her to fame.
Although he was actively involved in his wife’s Weigh Down workshops, David largely avoided the spotlight after Gwen established Remnant Fellowship. This is because, according to some in HBO Max’s docuseries The Way Down, a man with a master in Divinity might find it uncomfortable to see his wife make such a big deal out of religion.
David didn’t go to church, festivals, or other gatherings, despite Gwen occasionally mentioning him. Others think that one reason David was kept out of the public eye was that he did not share his wife’s belief that dieting and striving for thinness was a good way to be closer to God. Nevertheless, the pair had a 40-year marriage.
The many women in Remnant Fellowship Church who had been told they couldn’t divorce their spouses, even when there had been recurrent infidelity, were naturally upset when Gwen abruptly divorced David in 2018 and later that year married Joe Lara.
Lara, a San Diego-native actor who was primarily out of work, is best known for playing Tarzan in the 1989 television film Tarzan in Manhattan and its subsequent series in the 1990s.
Lara worked as a handyman while residing in Nashville, which is how he first met Gwen and Remnant Fellowship Church. Lara apparently has a habit of dating people who had the money to sustain her wealthy stepfather’s lifestyle because she grew up with one.
The Remnant Fellowship even had its own recording studio, which allowed him to pursue his dreams of becoming a country music star.
However, many former Remnant Fellowship members claim in The Way Down that Lara seemed to be playing the role of a devout husband in order to access his new wife’s money and power.
Former associates speculate that Shamblin also saw her marriage to Lara as a calculated maneuver that would enable her to finally have a husband by her side who would publicly support her.
Lara had been in a long-term relationship with Natasha Pavlovich before she met Gwen, and the two had a child in November 2010. Lara and Pavlovich relocated to Nashville shortly after the birth of their daughter so that Lara could try to further his music career.
However, his career as a musician never really took off, and when Pavlovich wanted to transfer the family from Nashville to Chicago so that their daughter could be closer to her relatives, Lara made up a bogus police report accusing Pavlovich of abusing their four-year-old daughter.
After it was discovered that Lara’s claims were false, the report was withdrawn. He and Pavlovich became embroiled in a bitter legal dispute for the custody of their daughter after Lara married Gwen Shamblin; the conflict continued until Lara’s death in a plane crash in May 2021.
He, Gwen, and five other leaders of the Remnant Fellowship Church perished in the plane disaster that is believed to have been caused by Lara.