The Board of Foreign Parishes was created by a special act of the legislature of the State of New York in 1883, principally to respond to difficulties encountered by Episcopal parishes in foreign countries in holding legal title to their real estate. The statute was enacted to empower the Board to hold title to real property and endowments of American Episcopal Churches in Europe (to the extent those churches choose to convey the property to the Board).
The Board consists of 12 trustees who elect their own members. The Bishop in Charge is a member and, under the statute, each parish whose buildings are owned by the Board (i.e., the American Cathedral, Paris, and Christ the King, Frankfurt) is entitled to name two members of the Board. The Board also holds in trust the Nice Fund, which provides significant support to the mission and ministry of Convocation. The Board meets twice a year - normally in New York - in May and November.
In addition to the Board of Foreign Parishes, there are separate Boards of Trustees for St. Paul's Church (Rome) and St. James' Church (Florence), which own the buildings and certain financial endowments for those parishes. However, there is no legal connection at all among these three Boards, although there is some overlap of membership and they frequently meet at the same time and place. The current U.S. membership of the boards is composed almost entirely of people who have previously been members of one of the churches in Europe, which ensures a close and continuing working relationship with the Convocation.