For the Faith and in the Service of Humanity

The Order of St John is:

  • a major international charity
  • an Order of Chivalry
  • a Christian Order

The Order as a major international charity - St John International

The Order is a major international charity, carrying out a wide range of community healthcare activities. St John International supports the charitable work of St John around the world.

St John exists to improve community healthcare and its activities include all those carried out by the Priories, Commanderies and St John Associations worldwide. St John's activities, in various countries of the world, include first aid care and first aid training, ambulance services, sea, cliff and mountain rescue services, home-based care and care homes for the elderly.  As well, specialised care activities have been developed to meet particular needs in different countries.  These include mother and child healthcare, HIV/AIDS services, a kidney dialysis service, a specialised dental service for children with disabilities and therapy pets programmes.

Read more about St John activities.

The St John is also a major organisation for the training and development of young people. 

Much of the work of St John is undertaken by some 400,000 St John volunteers. 

The Order is also a Non-Governmental Organisation, which has had Special Consultative Status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations since 1999 and can thereby participate in its affairs.

The Order as an Order of Chivalry

The Order is an Order of Chivalry. There is no law to define either “an Order” or “an Order of Chivalry”. The basic idea of an Order is that it is a group of people who voluntarily agree to accept a common code of rules to govern their organisation, their conduct, and the leadership of their head. The affairs of this group of people are structured or “ordered” by this common code.

The concept of an Order of Chivalry is that the head is a Sovereign, the lawful successor of such a Sovereign, or a person appointed directly by the authority of such a Sovereign.

The Order of St John recognises that an Order is an Order of Chivalry if it is founded by a reigning Sovereign (or in countries which are not monarchies by another serving Head of State) with whom The Queen, as Sovereign of the United Kingdom, has, or at the time of its founding had, diplomatic relations and which continues to be governed by the lawful successor of the founder.

Membership of an Order of Chivalry can only be conferred by the Sovereign or by a person acting on behalf of the Sovereign and with the consent of the member. The outcome of this means that when you become a member of an Order of Chivalry you have received an honour. 

The Order as a Christian Order

The Order is a Christian Order but not all of its members are of the Christian faith. St John organisations are working with people all around the world from many different backgrounds and religions.

The Order is a Christian Order in that:

  • it was founded on Christian principles;
  • as an organisation it has a religious belief; and
  • it is motivated by Christian ideals.

But the Order admits those people of different faiths, and those who have no religious belief, who know about the Order’s Christian nature and who, in good conscience, are able to support the aims of the Order as a Christian Order.  

The Christian nature of the Order is reinforced by the fact that the Great Officers of the Order have to profess their Christian faith. They also have to agree that they will make sure that the faith continues to inform, inspire and invigorate the work of the Order and that this faith remains integral to the Order’s identity and tradition.