A pastor who was servicing a Metro Vancouver church has been charged with sexual assault and sexual interference against children.

Police in New Westminster, B.C., say they began an investigation after multiple reports came to them.

A police news release says the offences are alleged to have taken place between 2017 and 2021.

It says after a lengthy investigation by the department's major crime unit, three charges each of sexual assault and sexual interference have been laid against Pastor Edwin Alvarez.

At a press conference Sgt. Justine Thom of the New Westminster Police Department urged other victims to come to police.

"This incident is deeply troubling for the victims, for the families, for the community and for us," said Thom.

"What I strongly recommend parents do is have open communication with your children. You need to have that dialogue for them to understand what is acceptable behaviour and what is not."

Police haven't released which Christian church the pastor was caring for, other than to say it was at a small, Metro Vancouver location.

The statement says Alvarez was arrested with the help of the Saanich Police Department on Jan. 4.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 9, 2023.