“The body and spirit are too intertwined to easily separate them from each other,” explains Meg Tonne, a registered nurse and parish nurse for First Presbyterian Church. Part nurse, part social worker, part patient advocate—the parish nurse fills roles we rarely think to associate with church ministry. While Meg Tonne (pronounced Tony) is the only parish nurse in Oak Ridge, she says that tending to the whole person—body, mind, and spirit—is her goal while serving on the church staff.
Meg Tonne ministers to church members as a medical professional, spending her time in a plethora of ways. Sometimes she is visiting those who are homebound or hospitalized or in a nursing home; waiting with family during surgery; praying with someone; providing a listening ear; holding a hand; giving emotional support; attending a church staff meeting; or planning a monthly luncheon for senior adults.
Other times, she is advising church members of patient rights, discussing health insurance, referring the sick for appropriate medical assistance, accompanying someone to a doctor appointment, lending medical equipment, assisting with home health care, holding health screenings, taking blood pressure, or doing EKG screening at a health fair. While she cannot do hands-on nursing or treatment, her responsibility is to refer members to the assistance they need.