A double act who called themselves "Moon" are now on the path to becoming Church of England priests.

After Jack Chisnall and Josh Dolphin graduated in 2016, they spent their years performing absurdist sketch shows in pub theaters during the weekends. Now, they left behind their dream of being hot-shot comedians and turned to priesthood.

Six years prior, neither of them believed in God.

Knowing Faith

Chisnall was a man of extremes. He was zealously religious during his early adolescence and was an equally zealous atheist during his university years.

On the other hand, Dolphin was not religious as a teenager but had happy memories of his local parish church.

In Lamorna Ash's article in The Guardian, she stated that there are usually two distinct routes to faith. Either he was led to church by a devout Christian or he turned to God after experiencing trauma. The start of the duo's religious journey fell on the latter route.

At university, Dolphin had a major panic attack the night before he handed in his final thesis. This led him to take a year off. When he returned, he sought ways to prevent another breakdown.

He began to attend morning prayers together with a friend at his college chapel. Rather than being converted, he regarded this as a stabilizing ritual. However, he was able to come to the realization that there was somewhere he could go in times of trouble.

Similarly, Chisnall encountered a crisis in his final term. He began to question, "What's the point of literary criticism?" until it went to "What's the universe for?"

For Chisnall, that was the origin of his faith. "God finds you when you're low," Rev. Helen Fraser, head of vocations in the Church of England, once said to Ash.

This made her understand what it means to be Christian, which is "fate elided with faith, each experience reworked into further evidence for the existence of a loving God."

Continuing on with his faith journey, Chisnall came to the oldest parish church in London, St. Bartholomew the Great.

At Chisnall's first church service, he sat in the back pews and tried to make sense of the oppositional thoughts in his mind. Unlike his career as a comedian, church services offered him structure and order. This seemed to fulfill what he was lacking in his career-control over his life. 

On the other hand, Dolphin moved to the U.S. to complete a history fellowship in Princeton.

On one of their Skype calls, Chisnall brought up that he had started attending church. Dolphin felt that faith suddenly became a plausible option for him with his friend leading the way.

After Dolphin came back from the U.S., he moved into the same house as Chisnall and settled on attending church at All Saints Margaret Street.

For the duo, college left them feeling deflated. However, as they made the same choice to convert to Christianity, they finally felt sorted.

Also Read: Prayers for the Sick: A Guide on How to Pray for Healing

Leaving Comedy and Venturing Priesthood

When they left their career as comedians, Dolphin felt happier and more rooted than he'd initially been. Meanwhile, Chasnill struggled to let go of his dream.

As a way out, he applied for a postgraduate in applied theology at St. Stephen's House. He then moved to Oxford in 2020 to begin his new studies. At that time, it was in the midst of the pandemic. Even if he wanted to return to the comedy stage, there was nothing for him to return to.

In 2021, Chisnall finally entered the initial period of discernment. Training for priesthood usually takes six years. The initial stage takes roughly a year and requires the ordinand to recognize God's call. 

According to the Church of England, the process usually involves having conversations with the local level parish clergy or chaplain. The diocese will then have someone to oversee the discernment process. Once they have explored the ordinand's calling, they will be invited to a national process of discernment.

After advisors ascertain that the ordinand is fit for priesthood, he will undergo a ministerial formation. Then, after ordination, there will be three years of training as a curate-from being a deacon to a priest at a parish church.

On the other hand, Dolphin put off his initial discernment in 2021. He decided that being a history teacher at the Church of England school was a sufficient life calling.

At that time, he went through a period of spiritual aridity. However, he never stopped going to church and kept praying for consolation.

Over time, his faith was restored and he started his discernment again. According to Dolphin, he and Chisnall might end up at the same theological college.

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