New Sect: Weigh Down guru Gwen Shamblin's Remnant Fellowship grows.

"Remnant Fellowship grows, but critics see 'graceless legalism.'"

Each Sunday morning, Kent and Regina Smith convert their spacious living room in Norman, Oklahoma, into a gathering spot for a controversial new religious movement, Remnant Fellowship.

In just two years, the movement, which Weigh Down Workshop author Gwen Shamblin founded in Nashville, has spread to about 90 sites nationwide. In 2000, thousands of church leaders canceled Weigh Down classes after Shamblin publicly rejected the doctrine of the Trinity (CT, Oct. 23, 2000, p. 15), but her movement continues to grow.

The Sunday morning service at the Smiths' comfortable brick home on Norman's northwest edge began with singing "Refiner's Fire" and "Rebuild the Wall," which hold special meaning for fellowship members. They see themselves as the fulfillment of Ezra 9:8-9, in which God is said to leave a faithful remnant to rebuild his sanctuary.

They also sing a revised version of a hymn, "Holy, Holy, Holy," more in accord with Shamblin's anti-Trinitarian theology. Rather than "God in three persons, blessed Trinity," fellowship members sang, "God over all and blessed eternally."

'The food idol'


After worship, a fellowship member called a phone number in Nashville. All Remnant branches listen to Shamblin preach over a speakerphone at least once a week. On this summer Sunday, she was traveling on the Rebuilding the Wall tour. At Rebuilding the Wall events, Shamblin has said overeating is idolatrous self-worship. She said the modern Christian church has become the "great prostitute" by bowing to the idols of food, money, sexual lust, and television.

The speakerphone is fuzzy this time, so after a minute, the Smiths hang up. They continue by teaching from Shamblin's books, which they know well.

The Smiths started their Remnant Fellowship branch ...

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