A young Christchurch man's dad tearfully cried out that he loved him in court– after his son was accused of torching two churches and trying to burn a third.

The Kingdom Hall of Jehovah's Witnesses in Burwood was razed to the ground in the early hours of Monday morning.

There were also smaller fires at the Christchurch Transitional Cathedral and New Brighton's Beach Café, and reports of an attempted arson at a church in Kaiapoi.

A 21-year-old man - who's been granted name suppression - has had his first appearance in the Christchurch District Court.

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He has been charged with three counts of arson, one of attempted arson, two of burglary, and one of intentional damage.

In Court today he appeared solemn, and nodded to his parents in the public gallery.

His father left the court in tears.

The defendant has been sent for an assessment under the Mentally Impaired Persons Act.