Gwen Shamblin: ‘The Way Down’ Subject Left Her Estate to Her Kids, Not Her Church

Gwen Shamblin’s will raised eyebrows after the Remnant Fellowship founder died in a plane crash. Learn more about this subject of "The Way Down."

Dan Clarendon - Author

Apr. 29 2022, Published 3:26 p.m. ET

In a video series about greed, the founder of Tennessee’s Remanent Fellowship Church said that money “was never intended to be accumulated, but rather used as one small tool to build up the kingdom of God.”

But Gwen Shamblin’s will seems to tell a different story.

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Shamblin, who died in a plane crash nearly a year ago, left everything to her children and not the church she founded in 1999.

“It suggests to me—perhaps I’m cynical—it suggests to me that the accumulation was not for God, it was for Gwen,” Gary Blackburn, an attorney in Nashville, Tenn., told NewsChannel 5 last year, as the newsroom investigated Shamblin’s estate.

Read on for more about Shamblin, whose story was told in a HBO Max documentary and will be retold in an upcoming scripted series.

Shamblin left everything to her children, not the fellowship.

Shamblin’s will, which NewsChannel 5 obtained, left everything to her adult children, Elizabeth and Michael, since she and the first beneficiary mentioned in the will, her first husband, divorced in 2018.

Blackburn noted that after looking at the will “a couple of times,” he didn’t see that Shamblin had left any money to Remnant Fellowship.

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In response, the church said that Shamblin and her children decided “almost two decades ago” to give “approximately $10 million of what would have been Michael and Elizabeth’s inheritance to the building and grounds of Remnant Fellowship Church.” Shamblin also donated Weigh Down Ministries, her Christian diet program, and her intellectual properties, the church added. “This was an incredible gift of generosity from Gwen and her family’s inheritance, and the church would expect no more.”

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Shamblin had a net worth that was potentially in the millions.

Shamblin’s net worth isn’t known, but NewsChannel 5 reports her estate is potentially worth millions of dollars. The newsroom’s investigation also uncovered Shamblin’s divorce settlement with her first husband, which showed how the couple would divvy up 18 pieces of property worth more than $20 million and showed that Shamblin had to pay her ex $3 million.

“To accumulate that much money means two things,” Blackburn observed. “One is you have tremendous cash flow and, secondly, you’re not contributing a whole lot of it to mission work or other work of the church.”

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An HBO documentary about Shamblin was two days away from being done when she died.

In May 2021, production company Campfire Studios was wrapping up production on the documentary that would become HBO Max’s The Way Down: God, Greed and the Cult of Gwen Shamblin when producers and director Marina Zenovich learned that Shamblin had died. “We were days away from locking picture on the series, we had put everything to bed … and this happened,” Campfire CEO Ross Dinerstein told Realscreen last October.

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Following the fatal accident, Zenovich and HBO decided to add more episodes — and more interviewees — to the series. “The new people who are in the docuseries are people that were afraid to go on camera or didn’t think it was worth it. It all changed when Gwen died, as tragic as it was for her family,” Zenovich explained, according to The Tennesseean.

The second part of the docuseries went live on HBO Max on Thursday, April 28, the same day that Deadline reported that Campfire Studios and Huntley Productions were working with Michelle Dean, showrunner of Hulu’s The Act, to create a drama series about Shamblin for HBO Max.


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