Our ministry team

Vicar: James Shakespeare


I came to St John’s, in 2017, after 18 years’ ordained ministry in the Church of England, much of it in the diverse City and Diocese of Leicester.


I served as Policy Adviser & Chaplain to the Bishop of Leicester, as Rector of the large Parish of Birstall & Wanlip, and Team Vicar in the Market Harborough Team Ministry. Alongside parish leadership, I have also had roles leading Churches Together, as an active Street Pastor, and as a spiritual director and regular Quiet Day leader. I am a member of the Third Order of the Society of St Francis, a community of people seeking to follow St Francis’ spirituality in everyday life. I am also a member of the Cursillo movement.


Originally I read theology & religious studies at Cambridge University, and trained for ministry at Westcott House, Cambridge. Before ordination I served in the voluntary sector and in local government, and have a passion for Christians engaging in social action and responsibility. I have also studied at the University of Manchester (Social & Pastoral theology) & Sarum College (Christian spirituality). I was ordained at Ely Cathedral in 1999 and 2000.


I am married to Alison, who is a school business director, and we have two teenage children, Hannah & Edward. As a family, we enjoy the countryside (especially North Norfolk), music & the arts, reading, and travel. We also have a very affectionate cat named Fred!

Assistant Curate: Ceri Payne

I came to St John’s as Assistant Curate after ordination in July 2021, although I have lived in the parish for 20 years.


I originally came to Cambridge to study law at Girton College. I was a barrister in London for over 30 years practising under my maiden name of Ceri Bryant, for the last seven of those in silk, as Queen’s Counsel (QC). I loved working in company law, advising and appearing in court on company restructurings that required the court’s approval. But I also valued and enjoyed getting into conversation with people about how we can connect with God through Jesus.  Exploring the opportunities to give more of my time to this led to me training for ordination at Ridley Hall in Cambridge whilst studying for a degree in Theology for Ministry at Magdalene College, Cambridge.


I’m married to Mike, Professor of Computational Physics in the University of Cambridge and a fellow at Pembroke College, and we have four grown-up children and a son-in-law. I enjoy making patchwork quilts and going to the cinema. 

Assistant Curate (Part-time):

Muthuraj Swamy



Assistant Curate: Nell Whiscombe


I came to St John's as Assistant Curate in 2022, after ten years in publishing. I originally read Anglo-Saxon, Norse and Celtic at Cambridge, and later returned to study for a BA and MPhil in Theology, Religion and Philosophy of Religion, before ordination  in July 2022.

I lead on children's and families' ministry as part of my role at St John's, and am also passionate about social justice, having volunteered regularly with the Cambridge Churches' Homeless Project before starting my ministry training. 

Honorary Priest: Peter Heslam


Peter is an Assistant Priest at St John's church and is Director of Transforming Business, a project at the University of Cambridge on enterprise solutions to poverty. He is a fellow in the Divinity Faculty and a Senior Member of Trinity College. Peter works closely with economists and business leaders, and is a prolific writer, speaker and researcher in this field. He was attached to St John's as an ordinand in 1993–95, returning in 1999 when he became a lecturer and director of studies in the Cambridge Theological Federation and at the London Institute for Contemporary Christianity.

Retired Priest: John Hillier


I was a Reader for 14 years and was ordained in the Diocese of Southwark as a self supporting priest in 2002. My working life was spent in the architectural profession from which I retired in 2003. My wife Audrey is physically disabled but we have good family support with three adult children and four grandchildren three of whom live in Cambridge.
I am delighted now to serve as an honorary priest at St Johns.

Licensed Lay Minister (Reader):
Canon Kate Aylmer

I have been a Licensed Lay Minister (Reader) for over 20 years, helping lead services and preaching (and all sorts of other things!), and serving in local churches in the Diocese of Ely. I have worked as a Vocations Adviser (walking alongside people wishing to explore where God might be calling them), and recently as Selection Officer for Licensed Lay Ministry. I trained in pastoral counselling at St John's College, Nottingham.


For most of my career I have been teaching, working with a variety of age groups over the years, including management training. Before retirement, I was helping primary school teachers get to grips with information and communication technology. My children have long ‘fled the nest’, and now, for refreshment, I potter in my garden or take my camera for a walk.

Pastoral Authorised Lay Minister: Anne Rigby


I completed the ALM course in pastoral work in the autumn of 2018. The pastoral work I carry out for St. Johns involves both ends of the age spectrum. I help to facilitate a busy toddler group on a weekly basis and I visit the very elderly, housebound, listening, talking and praying with them. My work is rewarding and I feel privileged to be able to do this.

Pioneer Authorised Lay Minister: Sian Binley


I started attending St John’s about 8 years ago when I first started bringing my youngest daughter to Toddle-Along. I am married with two daughters and as a family we enjoy walking, visiting our caravan, festivals and the beach!. Since coming to St John’s I have become part of the Children’s Church team, the Messy Church team and also a Server. I have recently become part of the ministry team since training as a Pioneer Lay Minister. I have really enjoyed my training and look forward to putting it into action!

Licensed Lay Minister in Training: Jane Gardiner


I have been attending St Johns for the past two years after being at my last church for the past twenty! I enjoy baking, taking walks with my dog, reading and meeting people. I am currently undertaking the training as a Licensed Lay Minister with a focus of pastoral care.