- The United Methodist Church is dismissing a complaint against a retired bishop who performed a same-sex wedding in Alabama.

A church statement says the case against retired Bishop Melvin G. Talbert is ending with a settlement that the denomination calls a "just resolution."

Methodist teaching doesn't allow same-sex marriages, and Talbert faced potential sanctions for performing one.

In the agreement, Talbert expresses regret that some felt harmed when he performed the wedding ceremony in Birmingham in October 2013. But Talbert also says he still believes his actions were correct.

- Billboards reaching out to atheists, humanists, freethinkers and agnostics are up in Florida, Alabama and Mississippi.

They bear one of two messages: "Good without a god? So are we!" and "Don't believe in a god? You're not alone!"

At the bottom is the web address GulfCoastCoR.org, for the Gulf Coast Coalition of Reason.

Coordinators Amanda Scott and Buz Ryland describe two goals: reaching out to like-minded people and letting others know that nontheistic folks are part of their communities.

The Washington-based United Coalition of Reason is paying over $11,000 to put the billboards up for four weeks in Mobile, Ala.; Pascagoula, Miss.; and two sites in Pensacola, Fla.

It's part of a national campaign. Louisiana and Georgia are among 37 states where billboards went up earlier.

- Christmas trees can be enjoyed long after they are discarded by a family. They're a great source of vitamin C - for goats.

A Maine farm is extending an invitation to residents who don't know what to do with their discarded trees.

Hillary Knight, the barnyard manager at Smiling Hill Farm in Westbrook, Maine, says the farm's goats are more than happy to eat the trees.

She says it's a win-win. Humans can recycle their trees and the goats get a treat.

She tells WCSH-TV it's like humans eating oranges dipped in chocolate - a treat with health benefits.

So far, 200 trees have been donated.

WILMINGTO - A Delaware man says he's devastated after a luxury hotel thwarted his plan to give five homeless people a warm bed and a hot shower on Christmas night.

Matt Senge of Newark tells WDEL-AM he booked a two-bedroom suite at the Hotel du Pont in Wilmington for $639 on Christmas and told hotel managers and the reservation clerk about the gift.

He says everyone was enthusiastic and supportive, and that he got an email confirmation about the room. But three hours before check-in - after Senge told the homeless people about the gift - Senge says the hotel called to say the reservation was canceled because of safety concerns for other guests.

A hotel spokesman says the reservation was canceled because the homeless people wouldn't have proper identification.

MEM - Federal authorities are investigating church fires in two West Tennessee counties to determine if they were intentionally set.

Michael P. Knight, a special agent with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, said Thursday the agency is investigating two church fires: one at a Methodist church in Haywood County and the other at a nondenomination church in Lauderdale County.

Knight says the fires occurred Wednesday. The Haywood County church was a total loss, while the church in Lauderdale suffered significant damage.

"The building is gone. The church isn't," pastor John Bonson of Trinity United Methodist told WMC-TV in Memphis.

Pastor G.K. Ballard of the Cowboy Church in Lauderdale County told WREG-TV in Memphis that his church has been operating about three years. The church sustained about $20,000 in damage, with fire damage along the carpet near the back of the church.

The ATF is also investigating an attempted fire at a Baptist church in Lauderdale County.

Knight says the investigation of the fire scenes will continue for at least two more days.

KING, N.C. - The city of King is settling a lawsuit by removing a Christian flag and statue of soldier kneeling by a cross from the Veteran's Memorial at King Central Park.

The Winston-Salem Journal reported the city council voted 3-2 last week to approve the settlement.

Under the agreement, the city will not fly the Christian flag and will remove the statue depicting a soldier kneeling before a cross-shaped marker.

The city said in a news release that it had incurred more than $50,000 in legal fees and costs. It estimated litigation costs would have approached $2 million, exceeding the city's $1 million insurance coverage.

A U.S. Army veteran sued in November 2012, alleging King officials violated his constitutional rights by allowing the Christian flag to fly at the memorial.

Associated Press