Alumni Spotlight: Love for music drives Pankratz

Rachael Pankratz

Rachael (Morris) Pankratz’s first visit to Tabor College was her first step inside Hillsboro. Not having any other background with the college, she knew she’d learn more once she arrived to begin her athletic career in fall 2014.

God opened the door for Pankratz to become a Bluejay, but directed her down a different path.

Injuries and other opportunities drew the Piper High School (Kansas City, Kan.) graduate away from athletics, leading to her love of singing and playing guitar.

Seven years and two recorded singles later, that passion for music has only just begun.

Finding a home on stage

Within 48 hours of deciding to no longer participate in athletics, Pankratz (g’17) met now graduates Trevor Morris and Tristen Long in the Student Center to ask about the opportunity to become a worship leader.

 “I had always dreamed of being in a band and music was an escape for me,” she said. “I was a part of show choir and theatre in high school and didn’t mind being on stage. It was a total God thing. I had never done anything like [worship leading] before.”

The next two years opened the door to serve as the Share, Prayer & Dare (SP&D) worship leader and as the chapel intern. Even though she only had played guitar for two years, Pankratz began to find her “voice”.

Rachael and Layne Pankratz
Pankratz pictured with husband Layne (g’16).

“It was an immediate love,” Pankratz said. “To be able to look out at people worshiping with me and to be able to lead that… I felt at home. I love being able to look out and see people sing with me.”

The intimacy of students connecting in their faith was a driving force in Pankratz’s involvement. The 2017 graduate said that leading SP&D gave her an opportunity to step even further out of her comfort zone.

“It’s so special for students that want to speak life into one another,” she said. “It’s so special.. particularly with Tabor, [SP&D] does a great job of meeting people where they are and that is not always the case… The school does a fantastic job at meeting anybody where they are in their life and that’s exciting. In my history, I didn’t grow up in a place where you could be honest where you are with your faith or what you’re struggling with. It was nice to not have to put up a front.”

Start in Christian music

After moving to Utah to join Greenhouse Community Church and the neighboring Saratoga Springs community, an Instagram ad for a recording contest caught Pankratz’s eye.

Christian recording artist Consumed By Fire asked artists to submit a song of their choice. If selected, the aspiring musician would be provided an opportunity to travel to Nashville and record with the group. Roughly one month after submitting her audition, Pankratz got the call.

The band, who has recorded radio singles “I Need You God” and “He Waits For Me”, sat down to write with Pankratz and helped pen her debut single.

“Flames Make Gold” (Pankratz’s page on Spotify) debuted on Aug. 16, 2019, which has now amassed over 24,000 plays on Spotify. The song also reached No. 42 on the iTunes Christian charts, ranking amongst some of the top artists in the industry.

Two years later, Pankratz returned to meet the group and it led to her second single, “Again and Again.” (Pankratz’s page on Apple Music). That song is a depiction of her personal testimony.

“It’s some crummy things that happened to me in my past and laying them down at God’s feet,” Pankratz said. “It’s recognizing that I’m not perfect and I know that God has forgiven me for those things. Because he has forgiven me, I’m given the freedom to forgive… it’s such a beautiful thing to have that freedom.”

Pankratz pictured with members of Consumed By Fire (L to R), Josh Ward, Jordan Ward, Jeremy Holderfield.

Pankratz’s music is available on all major platforms. She also shared that she has two new songs in her back pocket and plans to make the trip back to Nashville to record them soon.

What’s next?

As she stopped to reflect on what her music career has given her, a reminder of God’s faithfulness struck a chord in the 2017 graduate. Pankratz, who was a business administration major with a focus in management, currently works as a senior analyst at Goldman Sachs.

Greenhouse Community Church has deep Tabor College ties, including Pankratz and her husband Layne (2016). Lead pastor Jason and his wife Nicole (Glanzer) Quiring, are 1998 and 1999 graduates, respectively. Youth pastor Drew and wife Allie (Jost) Pankratz graduated a year a part in 2015 and 2016.

Greenhouse Community Church
From left to right: Jason Quiring (g’98), Drew Pankratz (g’15), Allie (Jost) Pankratz (g’16), Logan Whitney (g’16), Carter Quiring, Ian Quiring (currently at Tabor), Coleson Quiring, Rachael (Morris) Pankratz (g’17), Layne Pankratz.

As Pankratz and her Tabor peers have driven their roots deeper in the area, Pankratz is grateful for the opportunity to serve the community with her passion for worship and community.

“It’s funny to think how naïve I was, not realizing how much the Lord had in store for me,” Pankratz said. “It started out as something that music was just a stress reliever and to be able to now speak into other people’s lives with my story and my music, it has come full circle.”

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