The main aim of the original Order of St John, some 900 years ago, was to help the sick and needy. That still is the core mission of the modern Christian Orders and their enterprises.

Johanniter International (JOIN) is much younger than its member organisations. At the international meeting of the enterprises of the Orders of St John, in the course of the celebrations to mark the 900th anniversary of the Order of St John on 14 May 1999, the idea to cooperate more intensively within Europe was born.

At the international meeting of the enterprises of the Orders of St John in Riga (Latvia) from 29 June to 2 July 2000, various possibilities of internal and external dissemination of European values by the present organisations were discussed. The improvement of cooperation with the European Union institutions and the realisation of common projects were defined as the general goals.

A letter of intent was agreed upon in Riga; it included an outline of the structure and contents of future cooperation. The representatives of the Alliance of the Orders of St John passed a resolution in Basel (Switzerland) on 20 October 2000, confirming the intentions of their enterprises.

Thus, the signatory organisations agreed to cooperate under the name of Johanniter International (JOIN) at the European and international level in awareness of the tradition of Christian charity, to which the Order of St John has been committed for several centuries.