Who Was Gwen Shamblin Lara? Christian Diet Guru in Plane Crash That Killed 7

Gwen Shamblin Lara, a controversial Christian diet guru, is among seven people presumed dead after a small plane crashed into a Tennessee lake on Saturday.

The Cessna C501 crashed into Percy Priest Lake near Smyrna after taking off from a nearby airport at about 11 a.m., according to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

It was not immediately clear what caused the crash, which remains under investigation.

At a briefing on Saturday evening, authorities said all seven people, including Shamblin Lara and her husband, aboard the plane are believed to have died in the crash. The others were identified as William J. Lara, Brandon Hannah, David L. Martin, Jennifer J. Martin, Jessica Walters, and Jonathan Walters.

They were all members of the Remnant Fellowship Church, which grew out of founder Shamblin Lara's Christian diet program, The Weigh Down Workshop.

Local station NewsChannel5 reported that Lara's daughter, Elizabeth Hannah, sent a message to Remnant families, saying the plane "had to go down for a controlled, quick landing" with her mother and husband on board.

"More information to come, but be in prayer—and be at peace," Hannah, who was not on the plane, reportedly said in the message. "GOD IS IN CONTROL, and we will not stop moving forward with WHAT GOD WANTS with this church."

The station reported that the Cessna C501 was registered to JL&GL Productions LP, a partnership formed by Shamblin Lara and her husband.

In a trailer for the YouTube series "Life with Gwen & Joe," the couple speak about how religion impacts every aspect of their lives. It also shows that Joe Lara was a pilot who appears to have flown the couple around the country regularly.

According to the Remnant Fellowship Church's website, Shamblin Lara "spent every waking moment on behalf of others—and then is often up in the middle of the night prayerfully seeking wisdom and guidance from the Heavens." The website details her philanthropy work, which included counseling people and founding a program to help inmates in several states.

But Shamblin Lara's for-profit religious weight loss movement times has also long been controversial, according to NewsChannel5.

She once claimed that she found support for her ideas that genetics aren't a factor in weight loss by looking at the starvation of Jews in concentration camps in Nazi Germany. "How in the Holocaust did you have all these people getting down real skinny? They ate less food," she told CNN's Larry King in the late 1990s.

She also denied the program's for-profit nature when asked about her lavish lifestyle, claiming that half of the money "goes to the government, the other half goes to keep it going so someone else can be helped."

Shamblin Lara also faced accusations of leading a cult, with some former Remnant members saying she was viewed as a prophet, according to NewsChannel5.

"I don't believe I know what my gift name is," she told the station in 2003, after being asked if she was a prophet. "So I will tell you I'm still wrestling with that. I've been told that for years."

Remnant Fellowship Church has been contacted for comment.

Updated 30/5 9 a.m. ET: This article has been updated with additional information.

Cessna private jet prepares to take off
Stock photo. A Cessna 510 jet airplane taxis at Santa Fe Municipal Airport in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Robert Alexander/Getty Images