BRENTWOOD, Tenn. (WKRN) – The founder of a controversial church in Brentwood was among seven people presumed dead after a small plane crashed in Percy Priest Lake Memorial Day weekend.

Gwen Shamblin Lara started the Remnant Fellowship Church in 1999 as an extension of her popular book The Weigh Down Diet. More than 100,000 churches across 66 denominations began holding ‘weigh down workshop’ ministries. In November of 2004, the Remnant Fellowship Church in Brentwood opened its doors.

“It’s teaching you how to transfer this relationship with the food – and we’ve got one on this country – to a relationship with God,” Shamblin said in a previous interview.

Since the church began, there have been questions and concerns. Shamblin public denial of the Holy Trinity led churches to drop her program.

Spirit-watch, a website that issued a 50-page report on the church’s teachings concluded by stating the Remnant Fellowship meets its criteria of being a cult. Shamblin and other church members sued Spirit-Watch and an anonymous blogger who had also been critical of the church.

In 2007, a couple who were members of the church was convicted of murdering their eight-year-old son who was beaten and locked in a wooden box. At the time, Shamblin said the pair was innocent.

William Lara, who goes by his middle name “Joe” married Gwen in 2018. He’s an actor best known in the role of Tarzan in the television series Tarzan: The epic adventures. His work included a Baywatch appearance and a key role in a Gunsmoke movie.